Medications often play a significant role in managing chronic illnesses and other serious health issues, which is why it is it is important for patients to remain compliant with taking prescriptions as directed by their health care providers. Medication non-adherence remains a widespread problem across the U.S., however. According to a National Report Card on Medication Adherence released by the National Community Pharmacists Association, more than half of Americans over 40 years old with a chronic condition – the group that uses prescription medication most regularly ¬– report multiple forms of non-compliance with their medications.
The report card’s analysis names several key factors that contribute to patients’ likelihood of medication adherence, including how easy it is to afford their medications, their personal connection with their pharmacy staff and how important they feel it is to take their medications as prescribed. HealthCare Partners has also noted common factors that affect patients’ compliance with taking medications. For instance, some patients who refill medications at different times throughout the month are less likely to be compliant, due to the difficulty associated with taking multiple trips to the pharmacy.
There are several steps patients can take to achieve better compliance with taking medications as prescribed, including:
• Coordinating with their provider for all medications to be refilled at the same time every month, requiring only one monthly trip to the pharmacist
• Building a stronger personal connection with their pharmacy staff and asking about potential side effects of medications and how to avoid them
• Discussing the importance of their medications with their providers and the potential impacts if they don’t adhere to their prescriptions
Medication adherence depends on open communication and cooperation between providers and patients. Following prescriptions as directed can help prevent additional health issues down the road, so it is helpful to develop a solid plan for taking required medications. HealthCare Partners providers are always available to discuss medications they prescribe, and they encourage patients to ask questions in order to fully understand what they are taking and why.
Managing blood pressure serves as a crucial component of maintaining overall wellness. High blood pressure can cause health issues. Medical advances have provided effective means to help prevent these issues, with a wide variety of medications available to help reduce blood pressure. These medications often make a valuable difference, as long as patients never fail to take their medications.
Practicing a healthy lifestyle can also reduce blood pressure and even the need for medication. Useful lifestyle practices that help reduce blood pressure include:
•Losing weight- Blood pressure tends to rise when an individual’s weight increases.
•Exercising regularly- Working out 30 to 60 minutes several days a week can significantly reduce an individual’s blood pressure.
• Maintaining a healthy diet- A comprehensive diet that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables and minimal saturated fat can result in a noticeable reduction in blood pressure.
Following these simple steps for managing blood pressure can help people live longer, more active lives. HealthCare Partners cardiologists are always available to provide additional information on carrying out these measures effectively.
The New Year is the best time for you to take charge of your health. An easy way to get started is by scheduling an annual checkup with a HealthCare Partners provider. A regular physical can help your provider determine if you need to undergo additional screenings or immunizations.
Take the following steps to make the most of your annual checkup:
• Update your family history – Take note of any diseases or conditions that have occurred within your immediate and extended family.
• Be forthcoming – When it comes to checkups, honesty is the best policy. Certain aspects of your lifestyle may put you at risk for a variety of diseases.
• Ask about screenings, exams and vaccinations – Ask your provider about screening tests that are appropriate for you based on age, family health history and lifestyle.
An annual checkup is an important preventative measure that can help you and your providers pinpoint any health problems before they start. Many diseases are treatable with early prevention, and taking the proper steps to ensure that diseases are discovered early can go a long way toward leading a long and healthy life.
Schedule an appointment with a provider today to start taking a more proactive approach to maintaining your health.
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is a chronic disease that affects nearly 10 percent of people in the U.S. The unhealthy buildup of glucose caused by this condition can increase the risk for other serious health issues. Blurry vision might signal a more serious health problem in diabetic patients.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) defines diabetic eye disease as a group of problems that might arise as a result of complications of diabetes. Diabetic eye diseases include cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
A cataract is a clouding or fogging of the normally clear lens of the eye, which results in an inability to focus on light and impaired vision. Glaucoma occurs when the fluid inside the eye does not drain properly, leading to excess pressure. Pressure damages nerves, blood vessels and causes a change in vision. A person with diabetes is 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts and 40 percent more likely to suffer from glaucoma.
The most serious eye-related disorder caused by diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, can lead to a permanent loss of sight. The different complications of diabetes are a consequence of damage to blood vessels. If they leak or have any blockage, they’ll cause changes in the retina and affect vision. Many people who have diabetic retinopathy may only experience a mild form of the condition that never progresses to vision loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this condition is the leading cause of blindness among American adults 20 to 74 years old. Those who suffer from retinopathy may not notice any symptoms of eye damage until it is too late.
These conditions can be prevented by taking steps to control blood sugar levels and blood pressure. HealthCare Partners also encourages patients with diabetes to see their eye doctor at least once a year for a comprehensive dilated eye exam.