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Women, Heart Disease, and Medication Adherence
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The Costs of Nonadherence Can Be Avoided

Adhering to medications is important for women living with heart disease. Statistics show that the risk of poor clinical outcomes among nonadherent patients is 5.4 times as high among those with hypertension and 1.5 times as high among those with heart disease.1 Rates of medication adherence are lowest among those with chronic diseases.2

When heart patients don't take their medications properly, several things can go wrong. Their condition may worsen; they may experience more side effects from the medication; they may be at greater risk for heart attack, stroke, hospitalization, and premature death.

If you are a woman living with heart disease, taking your medications the right way can improve your symptoms and quality of life, slow disease progression, guard against future heart problems, lower medical costs, minimize side effects and improve survival.

Watch our video about medication adherence

Tips to adhere to your medication:

  • Be an active partner in your care: ask your health care team questions about your condition so that you understand why your medication is needed; and work with your health care team to devise a medication plan that fits your life.
  • Keep a current list of all your medications, including over-the-counter medicines, supplements, and herbal remedies, and review it with your doctor and your pharmacist at each visit.
  • Set a routine so that you remember to take your medications at the same time every day; perhaps around a daily routine activity like eating breakfast or brushing your teeth. If you need an extra nudge, set an alarm or sign up for a reminder service through your pharmacy or online.
  • Use one pharmacy only so that your pharmacist can alert you to potential side effects/drug interactions. This can also help you get medications refilled on time.
  • Keep your medications in their original containers so that you can read the label carefully. This will help you take and store your medications properly.
  • Report side effects from your medications and any other concerns you may have about your medications to your doctor immediately.
  • Do not stop taking any of your medications without talking to your doctor first, even if you start feeling better and do not believe that a/several medication(s) is/are necessary 
Helpful infographics:
Take your medications as directed Importance of medication adherence 
 What is Medication Adherence?  Why is it Important to Take
Medications as Directed
Costs of poor adherence Safety Tips
 Costs of Poor Medication Adherence   Tips for Medication Safety

Additional Resources:

Heart Medications and What They Do

National Patient Education Webinar on Women, Heart Disease, and Medication Adherence





1Improving Prescription Medicine Adherence is Key to Better Health Care,, January 2011. Available online at:

2Thinking Outside the Pillbox: A System-Wide Approach to Improving Patient Medication Adherence for Chronic Disease, New England Healthcare Institute, August 2009. Available online at:

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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) patient advocacy organization with thousands of members nationwide, including women heart patients and their families, health care providers, advocates and consumers committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. WomenHeart supports, educates and advocates on behalf of the nearly 48 million American women living with or at risk of heart disease. Our programs are made possible by donations, grants and corporate partnerships.

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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a founding partner of The Heart Truth Red Dress campaign. The Heart Truth and Red Dress are trademarks of HHS.