Blood Pressure Medications: It’s Important to Take Them as DirectedSeventy percent of U.S. adults age 65 and older have high blood pressure. However, according to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 million of them aren’t taking medication to control their hypertension as directed, with those living in the South (known as the “Stroke Belt”) being the worst offenders.

Just as this medication can save your life, skipping doses, discontinuing use of the medication or never filling the prescription in the first place can put you at a much higher risk for a heart attack or stroke. So why aren’t you taking your meds?

Cost.

If the monthly price tag isn’t within your means, don’t try to stretch a month’s worth of pills out for a couple of months or avoid filling the prescription altogether. There may be alternatives. Talk to your pharmacist about generics or ask your doctor about assistance programs.

Side effects.

Experiencing changes like dizziness, a dry cough or an upset stomach? Often these side effects will diminish over time, as your body adjusts to the new medication. If the issues you are experiencing are mild, wait several weeks to see if they resolve on their own, and if they don’t, don’t stop the medication. Instead, consult your physician and he or she may be able to adjust your dosage or change your medication.

Memory.

Remembering to do anything on a regular basis, particularly taking medications, becomes more and more difficult as we age. If you find yourself forgetting to take your blood pressure medication, put an alert on your phone or ask a family member or friend to remind you.

Lifestyle.

Just because you’ve improved your diet or exercise regimen or eliminated certain stressors in your life doesn’t mean you’ve also eliminated the need for that bottle of pills. Lifestyle certainly can affect your blood pressure, but oftentimes it’s not the sole culprit. Let your doctor be the judge.

The bottom line: Take meds for hypertension exactly as the doctor ordered. It could save your life!

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