Former Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop once said, “Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.” A surprising number of people are prescribed medications for important risk-reducing reasons, and they do not take them.
However, when they don’t or when they take them incorrectly, people fail to get the needed benefits from the medications prescribed. Here are some common errors that can increase a person’s risk:
Not filling the prescription
Omitting doses or taking extra doses
Taking the wrong amount - either too little or too much
Self-prescribing a “drug holiday;” discontinuing the medication for a period of time
Not taking them properly:
Medications are taken at the wrong time.
Instructions are not followed.
Deciding to discontinue medication altogether or discontinuing incorrectly
There are also a number of other reasons people may not be consistently taking their medications as directed.
No matter what the reason or how big the hurdles, communicate honestly with your provider and work together to solve the problems you are able to solve. AFib patients and their caregivers are wise to make sure these reasons are addressed so that gaps in medication adherence will not happen.
Lack of insurance or inadequate health insurance to cover prescriptions
Cost of care and medications
Lack of transportation
Inability to take time off from work to see the provider and stay current on meds
Perception of health, do not understand the need for the medication
Lack of knowledge about the need for regularity and consistency
Forgetfulness, lack of predictable routine
Over-confidence in ability to follow recommendations
Lack of continuity of provider care
Medication side effects
Complexity of regimen
If you are unconvinced about the benefits of your medications, discuss this with your healthcare provider. Reaching your treatment goals and lowering your risks requires an honest discussion about any real obstacles that may cause you to stop taking your medications. Unlike other treatment measures, taking medications is almost always entirely up to the AFib patient or the care provider, and choosing to be faithful to your doctor’s instructions requires partnership and trust.
Your medications may just save your life. Nonadherence to cardiovascular medications has been associated with increased risk of stroke and even death, so for yourself and for those you love, be willing to overcome the challenges and stay faithful to your potentially life-saving medications. If you are not achieving the success you need with your prescriptions, ask your provider to talk with you about other treatment options that may be right for you.
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