Skipping prescriptions a dangerous habit

Q. My father died of a heart attack, and now my husband has very high blood pressure (145/90). I’m afraid he’s headed in the same direction. He’s on a hypertension drug (Benicar), but he constantly “forgets” to take it, lets the prescription run out or says he’s “fine.” I swing from being furious to frantic. How can I get him to take his medicine?

Anonymous, via email

A. If you’ve ever heard someone say, “My doctor’s crazy,” this is why. Every physician has had breakdowns over people who, like your husband, get prescriptions for life-threatening conditions but don’t take them.

The problem’s as old and big as Rockefeller Center: 50 percent of people with chronic health problems act just like your husband. A fascinating attempt was recently made to get a group of heart-attack survivors — people you’d think would faithfully do anything — to take their meds. As a motivator, they got their heart drugs free. No co-pays, nothing. While more people started out taking them (good), almost half didn’t stick with it (aargh). A year after their heart attacks, only one in 10 was consistently taking their meds.

What to do? This:

1. Buy a home blood pressure monitor and make a pact with your husband to check your BP together every day. Seeing his numbers and what happens when he takes the meds may do the trick. Plus you’ll get a good sense of what’s going on with your own pressure. It’s a great habit.

2. Ask your doc to have a 20-minute talk with your husband about the drug, alternatives, risks, benefits and other options (diet, exercise) for after he gets his BP down. Way down. We’d like to see it at 115/75. Yours, too.

3. If those don’t work, enlist an outsider: a second doc, savvy nurse, counselor, relative, good friend, whoever has the power to appeal to his smarter side … someone he’ll listen to, who maybe has been there, but who’s not married to him.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Medications will shift his blood pressure from scary to healthy. He just needs you to help him see and believe that.

The YOU Docs — Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic — are the authors of “YOU: Losing Weight.” For more information go to www.RealAge.com.

Why people don’t take their meds

50 percent with chronic health problems skip pills

  • Don’t feel different after medicating  
  • Unnoticeable symptoms like high blood pressure
  • Sees self as old and weak when medicating
  • Skeptical about seriousness of diagnosis
  • Worried about side effects
  • Suspicious of prescription drugs

 

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