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Sticking to treatment: Why it can be hard

Featuring content from MediResource Inc.

Cholesterol treatment often includes a combination of medication plus diet changes and exercise. If you're having trouble sticking to your treatment, you're not alone. According to Dr. Peter Lin, family physician and Director of the Primary Care Initiative at the Canadian Heart Research Centre, non-adherence (not taking your treatment as recommended by your doctor) is very common – it can affect up to three-quarters of people with high cholesterol.

Why are so few people sticking to their treatment? Dr. Lin says there are many different reasons. The first is that people think cholesterol is "just a number." Because they don't feel it, it doesn't bother them. They're often not aware that high cholesterol is linked to heart attacks and strokes.

Dr. Lin also finds that many people don't stick to their treatment because of concerns about side effects. News reports of cholesterol pills causing muscle-related side effects have caused people to worry about whether their own medication could cause a similar problem. However, Health Canada (the government agency responsible for medication approval and safety in Canada) has examined the safety of cholesterol medications. The medication that had a higher risk of muscle problems was removed from the market so it is no longer sold. For the remaining medications of the same type, this side effect is very rare.

According to Dr. Lin, information is another factor that comes into play. Doctor's visits are often quite short. People may not be sure what questions to ask during the visit or they may feel overwhelmed or intimidated during the visit. As a result, they may not have the information they need to make a fully informed decision about the risks and benefits of the medication. To learn more about what you need to ask your doctor, see "Talking to your doctor."

These are some of the main reasons people don't stick to their treatment. Other people may have different reasons, such as difficulty remembering the medication, forgetting to refill it, or being "too busy" to make certain lifestyle adjustments, such as changing your diet or getting more exercise. Whatever the reason, there are ways to cope. See "What you can do to stick to your treatment" to learn more.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Your-Treatment-Making-a-Commitment