Not taking necessary medications can sabotage health, from the November 2013 Harvard Heart Letter

Up to 80% of people—including more than half of those who've recently had a heart attack—don't take their medications as prescribed, reports the November 2013 Harvard Heart Letter.

There are many different ways people fail to take their medications. Some take their pills erratically, forgetting to take the proper dosages or deliberately taking their pills every other day. Some take their medications like clockwork for a while, and then stop. Others never even get their prescriptions filled.

Cost is a big part of the problem. "Affordability—what people pay out of pocket—is a big barrier," says Dr. Niteesh K. Choudry, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an expert in medication taking. "People should ask their doctors about the costs of the medications being prescribed, which may influence the prescriber's choices.

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