A different exam: Physicians drug test hypertension patients for medication adherence

Hypertension is called the “silent killer” because its lack of symptoms can often have lethal results for those who go on to experience heart attack or stroke. But recent work from NPR and Kaiser Health News focused on problems that arise from conversations between physicians and patients.

A new drug screening, called KardiAssure, analyzes urine samples for many blood pressure and cholesterol medication, allowing doctors to know if an individual is taking her medication. Previous work shows nonadherence for such drugs can be as high as 50 percent.

"It's not that you don't want to take it, because you know it's going to help you. But it's the getting used to it," said Sharon Fulson, a customer service representative from Nashville, Tennessee.

The drug test can give physicians a better picture of an individual’s medication adherence than regular pressure measurements. The ultimate goal is to improve communication by honestly discusses medication.

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