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Taking medications just as your doctor orders is essential.

Did you know that 50 percent of patients fail to take their medications as prescribed by their doctor and that about 20 percent of the prescriptions doctors write aren’t filled?

If you’re in those ranks, that’s a big problem. Studies show that if you don’t take your medications as prescribed, you’re more likely to end up in the emergency room or hospitalized. This is especially true in patients with chronic diseases, like diabetes or high blood pressure.

To help safeguard this aspect of your health, follow these tips from the experts:

  • Know your meds — what, when, how much and why. Some patients don’t have a clear understanding of their medical condition or what happens if they don’t take their medications. If you’re unsure about this vital information, be certain to ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Use the same pharmacy for all your prescriptions. This can help you avoid taking conflicting medications.
  • Be mindful of cost. You should always ask before leaving the doctor’s office if there’s a generic option or something similar. Shop around — often the club or mail order pharmacies offer lower costs.
  • Keep to a schedule. Experts advise taking your medicine at the same time every day, along with other daily events (brushing your teeth, going to bed, etc.).
  • Use reminders. These include pillboxes (available at drugstores), watches with alerts and voice alarms, as well as smartphone apps. RemindMe, MyMedSchedule and MyMeds are among the nearly 200 apps on the market. Start with the free apps to see what works best for you. Talk to your pharmacist about signing up for automatic refills and text notifications. Your pharmacy can text you when you’re due for a refill or when your prescription is ready for pick up.
  • Don’t stop taking your meds without talking to your doctor. If you’re having side effects or trouble managing multiple prescriptions or don’t think your meds are working, let your doctor know before you stop taking them. Keep in mind that it takes a while for most medications to start working, and if your medication regimen is too complicated, your doctor and pharmacist can work together to simplify it.

Sources: American Pharmacists Association, American Heart Association, Patient Resource LLC


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If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately, call your doctor, or go to the emergency room/urgent care.