Five Million Older Americans Are Not Taking BP Meds As Directed

Some 5 million Medicare Part D enrollees aged 65 and older do not take their blood pressure medications properly, according to a Vital Signs report from the CDC. This improper use increases their 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. Healthcare systems — including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, community health workers, practices, hospitals, and insurers — can play a key role in improving blood pressure control nationwide. Other findings of note: • The percentage of Medicare Part D enrollees not taking their blood pressure medicine is higher among certain racial/ethnic groups (American Indian/Alaska Native, Black, Hispanic). This contributes to these groups’ higher risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and death. • There are also geographic differences. 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.