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Health Briefs

Why it's important to take your medicine as prescribed

Medication is most effective when it is taken as directed. Taking too much or too little medication, even taking it at the wrong times, can hinder the medicine's ability to do its job. It might even do more harm than good.

Taking medications incorrectly, particularly those prescribed to control blood pressure, diabetes, or cholesterol, can have serious consequences. Uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or kidney failure. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to complications that affect nearly every organ in the body, including heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves, gums, and teeth.

High cholesterol can lead to coronary artery disease, heart attack, or stroke.

So how do you make sure you don't miss doses?

  • Make taking your medications a part of your daily life. Make a connection between taking your pills and something else you do every day without fail, such as brushing your teeth.
  • Set up your doses for the week using a pillbox with a separate compartment for each day of the week. Even if you take only one pill a day, using a pill box means you will never have to wonder whether you've already taken your pills.
  • Order refills a couple of days in advance, earlier if you use a mail-order pharmacy. Waiting until the last minute for refills is a recipe for missed doses.
  • When traveling, keep your medications in your carry-on, never packed in your checked baggage. That way if your luggage is lost or delayed, you will still have your medications.
  • Use a reminder system to keep you on track. It can be something as simple as sticky notes on your bathroom mirror or clock alarms to remind you it's time for your next dose.

If you have questions about your medication or problems taking it exactly as prescribed, contact your doctor or pharmacist.