CDC warns 'silent killer' putting millions at risk as adults in US fail to take blood pressure medication

Millions of American adults aren't taking their blood pressure medication as directed, and it's putting them at risk for dangerous health complications.

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 5 million Medicare Part D patients age 65 and older are skipping doses of their meds or not taking them at all.

And not keeping your blood pressure in check could lead to some pretty serious issues, like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and even early death.

RELATED: See some of the top recommended health products

US News ​Pharmacists' picks: Top recommended health products
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US News ​Pharmacists' picks: Top recommended health products

The first step to accessing the recommendations is to select from among the following broad product groups. Here are the 13, along with standout winners.

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Cough, Cold and Allergy

- Cold Remedies: Cepacol

- Oral Antihistamines: Claritin

- Oral Decongestants: Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)

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Diabetes Health

- Diabetic Neuropathy Products: Capzasin

- Diabetic Multivitamins: Nature Made

- Oral Glucose Products: Glucerna

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- Blood Sampling Devices/Lancets: OneTouch

- Blood Pressure Monitors: Omron

- Peak Flow Meters: Omron

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Eyes, Ears, Nose and Throat 

- Contact Lens Solutions: Opti-Free 

- Saline Nasal Moisturizers: Ocean

- Sore Throat Liquids, Sprays and Strips: Chloraseptic

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First Aid

- Adhesive Bandages: Band-Aid

- Topical Antibiotics and Antiseptics: Neosporin

- Sun Burn Relief: Solarcaine (Cool Aloe Burn Relief Formula Pain Relieving Gel)

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Oral Care

- Cold Sore Treatments: Abreva

- Toothpaste (general use): Crest 

- Therapeutic Mouthwashes/Oral Rinses: Listerine

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Pain and Inflammation

- Headache Products: Advil

- Migraine Headache Products: Excedrin Migraine

- Anti-Inflammatory Products: Advil

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- Children’s Cough and Cold Combinations: Children’s Dimetapp

- Infant Formula: Enfamil

- Children’s Sore Throat Products: Chloraseptic Kids Sore Throat Spray

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Stomach and GI

- Upset Stomach Remedies: Pepto-Bismol

- Antacids: Tums

- Nausea Remedies: Emetrol

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- Sunscreen: Neutrogena

- Lip Balms: Carmex

- Acne Products: Neutrogena

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Vitamins and Supplements

- Nutritional Supplements: Ensure

- Multivitamins: Centrum

- Prenatal Vitamins: One A Day Prenatal

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Women's Health

- Menstrual Pain Relief: Midol

- PMS Symptom Relief: Hyland’s PMS

- Urinary Pain Relief: AZO Standard

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More Health Products

- Sleep Aids: Unisom

- Smoking Cessation Aids: NicoDerm CQ Patch

- Snore Aids: Breathe Right

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CDC Director Tom Frieden called the findings "troubling" and told reporters, "There's a reason hypertension is called the silent killer."

He continued, "A simple action can avoid potentially deadly consequences: Take your blood pressure medicine as prescribed."

SEE MORE: New Study Says You Should Drop Your Blood Pressure Even More

It's unclear exactly why patients aren't using their blood pressure medications properly.

But the report says multiple factors are most likely to blame, including complex pill regimens and unpleasant side effects.

And that's why the CDC is calling on doctors and health care providers to do more to help older patients stick to their high blood pressure treatment plans, like simplifying their medication regimens.

For its part, Medicare said in a statement, "Medicare will continue to work with prescription drug plans to educate enrollees about the importance of taking their blood pressure medications as prescribed so that they can lower their risk for heart disease and stroke."

According to the CDC, about 70 million adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure, and only about half have their blood pressure under control.

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