Good health equates to being free from disease and pain; however, staying healthy is a choice.
The power of the human body to heal itself is amazing. If skin is cut, if muscles are torn and if bones are broken the body will, in time, heal itself. Damage is what causes the body to not heal or become slow to heal.
Damage or injury to the body is not only caused by accidents and mishaps, but also by what a person consumes and how a person lives.
Small, everyday injuries and damage lead to illness, disease and impaired health. For example, too much alcohol disrupts the functions of the liver, the kidney, the lungs and the brain. Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to cirrhosis, pancreatitis, heart disease, liver cancer and osteoporosis. Consuming too many unhealthy foods or sugar-sweetened beverages can cause weight gain. Weight gain often leads to diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure or hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
When a medical professional diagnoses a disease, a treatment plan is usually devised.
A treatment plan is a collaborative procedure between a doctor and a patient on how to handle a disease. Treatment usually includes: lifestyle changes, medication and surgery. Lifestyle changes would restrict or eliminate anything that contributes to a disease and may include physical activities to reduce and slow down the affects of a disease. Medications would be given to relieve pain, alleviate symptoms, manage the condition and assist in maintaining the quality of life. Surgery would only be performed in severe cases and often after lifestyle changes and medication have failed.
Oftentimes, treatment plans are not successful due to patients not following the plan. One of the biggest reasons why patients do not recover while on a treatment plan is because they do not take the prescribed medications.
Medication adherence is a huge issue, but exactly how much does it affect patients and the doctors who treat them?
The impact is so large, in fact, that patient given free prescription drugs after having heart attacks still did not take them. It is so big, that some doctors, researchers and insurance companies are getting behind incentive programs that pay patients to take prescribed medication.
A recent article that appeared in The Huffington Post detailed the results of a study involving almost six thousand people who had suffered from a heart attack.
About half the participants were given free prescribed drugs and the remaining participants paid the usual co-payment amount of around 50 dollars.
Almost a year later, the results were tallied. Depending on the type of drug, 36 to 49 percent of the participants in the co-pay group filled their prescription, whereas, only 40 to 55 percent of the participants who received free medication filled their prescriptions.
One of the authors of the study, Dr. Elliott Antman of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, was dismayed by the results and exclaimed, “My God, we gave these people the medicines for free and only half took it.”
Dr. Antman’s response was most likely echoed throughout the medical community. According to the Center for Disease Control, heart attacks can cause heart damage affecting the rhythm of the heart, the pumping of the heart and blood circulation. The damage to the heart can lead to stroke, kidney disorder, peripheral arterial disease and heart attack reoccurrence. Heart attacks can be fatal and they can also be a symptom of heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
Yet knowing this, some of the heart attack survivors in the study did not even bother to fill a free prescription for drugs that would sustain their lives.
Medication adherence is such a concern that some insurers have developed incentive programs to get people to take drugs as prescribed.
Valerie Fleishman, executive director of the New England Healthcare Institute, told the New York Times in 2010, “It’s better to spend money on medication adherence for patients, rather than having them boomerang in and out of the hospital. Financial incentives are a critical piece of the solution.”
Fleishman and other health care professionals believe that the incentive programs are necessary for patients not responding to forewarnings of future health issues, hospitalization and death. However, not everyone agrees.
A psychiatry professor at King's College London, Dr. George Szmukler, questions the reasoning behind the programs. Szmukler told the New York Times, “Why should people who don’t want to take medication be paid, when prudent people who take medication are not?”
Szmukler makes a good point; however, health insurance companies are looking at the bigger picture.
Insurance companies are funding incentive programs to reduce the billions of dollars spent each year on hospitalization for people who become more ill from not taking their medications or failing to follow their treatment plan. Incentive payments average around 100 dollars a month, and in the long run, it’s cheaper to compensate the patients into action than it is to pay hospital stays that total tens of thousands of dollars.
Researchers believe that the psychological effect on patients is of more significance than the monetary incentive.
These motivational methods provide goals and helps patients to remember to take their medications. Thus, one of the obstacles associated with medication adherence is removed: forgetfulness.
By giving participants free prescribed medication, another problem is resolved: cost.
The results for both of the studies prove that getting individuals to good health is still quite the fight. However, it’s important to remember than health should not be granted because somebody won, health should instead be earned, because the patient made a wise choice for their own personal health.
To learn more about heart attack treatments, contact a cardiologist near you.
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.