The Importance of Medication Adherence

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.

Recent Discussions From The Providers Office Forum
Marcolandin avatar

Does anyone know a great doctor for afib in Houston, everyone tells me to go to st. Luke’s hospital but I would like something more specific. I had an ablation last year and I still go into afib everyday. I even was placed on more meds. I’m 34 and I know there is no “cure” but going into afib everyday keeps me from working out and enjoying trips with friends and family. Thank you for the help

Geronimo avatar

I've had Afib for over a year and during that time have had an ablation and 10+ Cardioversions. I went back into AFib 3 weeks ago and couldn't be cardioverted out this time so question on the table is if I should go back for the 2nd Ablation. I'm wondering if I should just live with the symptoms or go for the 2nd ablation. The past year hasn't been fun living in constant fear of when/if I will go back into Afib, looking out for possible triggers (no canfine, no alchohol, limited excercise, etc.)  not to mention I hate being Cardioverted every 40-90 days. It seems like I might be better off just accepting my persistent Afib with the associated sysmptoms and living my life as is. Has anyone else gone through this thought process? Any idea of what the long term impact is if I take this course of action?

Deb M avatar

I am going into the hospital next Wednesday for "tikosyn load". My doctor's office is not very forthcoming with information. Can anyone tell me what to expect? How is the load done and monitored? Is the load constant through IV or only at particular times? Do you have to actually lay in a bed for 3 days or can you get up and move around? Can you shower? What should you take to the hospital with you? Were you able to have visitors? How long before you can resume normal activies when you return home? Has being on this medication changed your life style?I would appreciate any advice anyone has. Thank you.

dark overlay when lightbox active