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Finding Your Way

Have a Chronic Condition? Know All Your Treatment Options

There may be more than you think

When she was first diagnosed with high blood pressure in 1991, Annie wasn't told how serious it could be. If untreated, high blood pressure can cause strokes, heart attacks and kidney problems. Annie also didn't know that it is called the "silent killer" because some people have no symptoms.

By learning your options, you can find ways to feel better — and live better.

Her first real scare came when she didn't feel well and went to her doctor's office. Her blood pressure level was so dangerously high, Annie's doctor sent her to the hospital right away. After she went home, her doctor prescribed medicines, but Annie admits she did not take them properly. Then she stopped taking her medicines.

After a second stay in the hospital, Annie got serious. She learned more about high blood pressure and different treatment options. Working with her doctor, Annie found the right combination of medicines. She also exercises, now that she knows how important that is to keep her blood pressure under control.

In addition to patient stories, AHRQ's information on treatment options includes:

  • Tips to help you talk with your doctor.
  • An interactive tool to help you and your doctor understand your health priorities.
  • Easy-to-understand patient guides about diabetes, high blood pressure and other health conditions, with lists of the pros and cons of different treatment options.
  • A glossary of medical terms.

Today, we have more options than ever before to treat many diseases and conditions. By learning your options, you can find ways to feel better — and live better.

I'm Dr. Carolyn Clancy, and that's my advice on how to navigate the health care system.

You may also like: Can't see your doctor? See a nurse. >>

Carolyn M. Clancy, a general internist and researcher, is an expert in engaging consumers in their health care. She is the director of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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