Skipping Meds Can Be Deadly

Half of patients undermine health by skipping doses, quitting medication
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2007 5:31 AM CDT
Skipping Meds Can Be Deadly
Pills   (KRT Photos)

Half of all patients with chronic illnesses don't take their medication as prescribed, says a new report, undermining their health and hastening their death. Patients with illnesses like heart disease and asthma often skip doses, misunderstand prescriptions or drop medication as soon as they feel better. The result is  more doctor visits, more hospitalizations, and billions in medical bills.

A federal agency is launching a campaign to combat the problem. Especially at risk are the elderly, those whose diseases are deadly but initially symptom-free, like high blood pressure, and those who recover before their medication has finished fighting infection, such as TB patients. Only 30% of teenagers take their medication to prevent asthma attacks properly. (More medicine stories.)

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