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Why don’t people take their blood pressure medicine?

March 4, 2019 by Renee Fischer

Cheryl Dennison Himmelfarb is empowering people to make healthier decisions

“Medication management is a common barrier to high blood pressure control. In fact, 25 percent of individuals never fill their initial prescription,” Himmelfarb says. “In the first year of treatment, the average individual has possession of their medications only 50 percent of the time.”

Himmelfarb is the Sarah E. Allison Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and is also focused on addressing the socioeconomic factors that contribute to health care disparities.

Many factors, including inconsistent health care providers for individuals who go to the emergency room for their care; provider-level barriers, like a lack of communications skills; and the cost of medications can contribute to non-adherence. The number of people with high blood pressure has nearly doubled in the last 40 years, with about 75 million American adults developing the condition. While low-income adults are as likely as middle- high-income adults to have high blood pressure, they are at a 20 percent higher risk for developing heart disease.

“In my research I’m partnering with patients, healthcare providers, and communities to identify more effective models of care, improve medication adherence, and ultimately reduce their risk for heart attack, stroke, and other consequences of uncontrolled high blood pressure.”

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