Many diabetics risk health by not taking meds

NEW YORK – About 21 percent of individuals with diabetes do not regularly take their blood-sugar lowering, blood-pressure lowering or cholesterol-lowering pills, researchers found in study of 11,532 diabetes patients.

The study patients who were nonadherent to treatment had higher blood pressure, higher levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol and higher blood sugar levels, indicating poor diabetes control.

Importantly, Dr. P. Michael Ho of the Denver VA Medical Center and colleagues report, patients who did not adhere to their medications had a 58-percent higher odds of being hospitalized and an 81-percent higher odds of dying than those who took their medications as prescribed. This was true even after the researchers accounted for factors that may also have contributed to these outcomes.

“Incremental increases in medication adherence were associated with improved outcomes,” Ho and colleagues report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

“The lower risk of being hospitalized or dying among patients who took their medications is likely due to the benefit of the medications as well as the fact that patients who take their medications on a regular basis are likely to practice other healthy behaviors that lead to their lower risk,” Ho noted in an email to Reuters Health.

This study, Ho said, highlights just how important it is for diabetic patients to take their medications as directed. “It may be helpful to incorporate medication taking into the daily routine,” Ho said.

Patients who have trouble taking their mediations on a regular basis, should discuss this with their physician “so that together the patient and physician can address the problem.” Patients who were nonadherent were younger than adherent patients and had fewer other illnesses.