Dr. Reed Q & A – Compliance: Stay on your prescribed medication

Reed V. Tuckson, MD, is Executive Vice President and Chief of Medical Affairs at UnitedHealth Group. A Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Dr. Reed is a nationally recognized speaker on preventive health and clinical medicine.

Q:   Dear Dr. Reed:

I am 78 years old and have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Sometimes I forget to take my medicine but I don’t feel any different if I don’t take my pills.  Why is it important for me to take these medicines every day if I feel the same when I skip a few doses?

A:   Thank you for your question.  Diseases such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol are good examples of many other conditions that exert significant damage to the body without initially producing symptoms.  But be assured that if not consistently treated, eventually you will feel the symptoms and the consequences.  The medications you take and your doctor’s advice are based upon scientific evidence; therefore, please remember that if your medications are going to be effective you must take them as prescribed.

Sometimes we unintentionally fail to take medicine as it’s prescribed.  There are lots of reminder systems to help people stay compliant which include seven day a week pill boxes and medication schedules.  You can visit www.aarphealthandwellness.com for more information on medication maintenance.

Taking medicine as prescribed by your doctor is an important thing you can do to improve your health and live a healthier life.


Do you have questions about your health? There is so much information out there that it can be hard to make sense of it all and, more importantly, apply it in our own lives. Dr. Reed Tuckson, Executive Vice President and Chief of Medical Affairs at UnitedHealth Group, hears this all the time as he travels the country speaking about preventive healthcare and clinical medicine and talking to readers of the “Ask Dr. Reed Q&A” column or his book, The Doctor in the Mirror. Dr. Reed cannot provide individual responses but he may address your idea in a future column, which you can read right here on Facebook. If you are seeking personal advice, please consult your doctor, specialist, or nurse.