Q: I can’t stay on schedule with my high blood pressure meds. My doctor keeps hounding me. Is it so bad not to take them regularly? — Gracie P., Hull, Mass.
A: You can skip a rock, skip school or simply skip for exercise (see iskip.com if you don’t believe us). But skipping your meds is bad for your health. It allows your blood pressure to rebound to its previously high, potentially dangerous levels.
Overall, not taking prescribed medications costs the U.S. $177 billion annually in avoidable hospitalizations and other health care costs. Almost 33 percent of folks don’t collect their prescribed medications from the pharmacy, and 25 percent of those with uncontrolled high blood pressure (like you) don’t take their medication regularly. Why does this happen? Cost matters: 23 percent of uninsured people ages 18 to 64 skip their medicine to reduce costs; 14 percent on Medicaid do, as do 9 percent of those with private insurance.
If that’s the problem, ask your doc about a less-expensive or generic med, or find out if there’s an over-the-counter preparation that would work as well. And for gotta-have-’em pharmaceuticals, check out Rxassist.com, or contact the manufacturer to see if there’s a program to reduce your cost.
But what if you’re not taking your meds because you’re afraid of the medication or in denial that you need it? Gracie, high blood pressure contributes to 1,000 deaths a day in the U.S. You need to talk with your doc about your condition and the medication so you really get why you need to take it.
But there’s another approach to take: We’ve got a plan that may let you reduce the amount of medication you take or get off it completely.
Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.