The importance of taking medication as directed

As pharmacists, we often see that although people have great intentions of taking their medication regularly, it often gets forgotten; this happens easily with people with conditions like high cholesterol or high blood pressure that can be relatively symptom free.  Some studies have shown that only 20% of people still take their cholesterol medication regularly a year after their treatment was started. Over time these medications reduce existing plaque in blood vessels, but this can’t happen if doses are missed.

Conversely, when a person is in pain and needs their next dose of medication to control their symptoms, it is seldom missed. In autoimmune diseases, the same can be true when a condition is under control, doses can be forgotten but this can result in significant flare of a disease causing irreversible damage.

A recent case was brought to my attention where a person didn’t bother renewing their blood pressure medication because they felt well. We know keeping blood pressure under control significantly reduces stroke and prevents damage to blood vessels and other organs. This gentleman, in his late 40’s, died suddenly of a massive stroke due to a sudden blood pressure rise. This was a real tragedy that resulted from stopping his medication.  Maintaining health includes rest, exercise of 150 minutes per week and eating a healthy diet.  It also means staying on medications that prevent illness which means they must be taken as prescribed.

Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health.  Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.

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