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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Temple: Majority of Those Under 65 Do Not Take Blood Pressure Medicine as Prescribed

Taking prescribed blood pressure medicine (antihypertensive medication) is a relatively low-commitment way for people with hypertension to reduce health risks that can include cardiovascular damage, stroke and premature death. Yet around half of people prescribed antihypertensive medication don’t have their high blood pressure controlled within recommended levels.

Part of the problem is that they aren’t taking medication as prescribed. With an estimated 100 million U.S. adults having high blood pressure — and the number rising — failure to take recommended medicine creates an avoidable public health issue.

The problem is more pronounced among people under age 65, according to recent research led by Dr. Gabriel Tajeu, assistant professor of health services administration and policy in Temple University College of Public Health, and published in Hypertension. His group’s study of prescription refills by more than 370,000 commercially insured patients under 65 found that 23.5 percent of those who were supposed to be taking antihypertensive medication discontinued use of the drugs within the first 270 days. The refill data served as a proxy for determining whether people were using the prescribed medicine.

Of those who continued, 40.2 percent had low adherence, taking prescribed dosages less than 80 percent of the time. In all, for the year 2014, a total of 54.2 percent of the under-65 population examined engaged in suboptimal medication-taking, whether by not using medicine as much as prescribed or by simply quitting its use. Prior research using Medicare data to look at the use of anti-hypertensive medication by people 65 and older has shown better compliance, though adherence is still far from perfect.

Read more about the study.

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