Seven out of ten people on Medicare have high blood pressure.
Half of them don’t have their blood pressure under control.
And, according to a new Centers for Disease Control report, some 5 million people who get their blood pressure meds from Medicare are skipping doses or have stopped taking their blood pressure drugs entirely. That’s at least 25% of the people for whom those drugs have been prescribed.
That, says the CDC, can leave those people with serious problems, like an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and death.
“A simple action can avoid potentially deadly consequences: take your blood pressure medicine as prescribed,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Health care providers can make treatment easier to help people keep their blood pressure controlled.”
Geography and background are factors
The CDC study analyzed data from more than 18.5 million people enrolled in Medicare Advantage or Original Medicare with Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage during 2014. It also found that the percentage of people who misused their drugs varied by where a person lives and by race and ethnicity.
The percentage of people not taking their blood pressure medicine is higher among American Indians/Alaska Natives, Blacks, and Hispanics.
The southern U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have the highest overall rates of not taking blood-pressure medicines as directed. North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota have the highest rates of people who do take their medicine as directed.
Healthcare providers can help control blood pressure
“While the Medicare prescription drug program has increased the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs, more can be done to encourage Medicare beneficiaries to take their medications as directed,” says Sean Cavanaugh, the director of the Center for Medicare. “Medicare will continue to work with prescription drug plans to educate enrollees about the importance of taking their blood pressure medications as prescribed so that they can lower their risk for heart disease and stroke.”