EMS Workers Explain What Causes the Most Preventable Deaths

By: Isadora Baum

If you have diabetes, read this.

Photo: Cavan Images / Getty Images

Paramedics and emergency service workers (EMS) are no strangers to traumatic situations, so when a questioner on the Reddit forums wanted to know about the most common causes of avoidable deaths, they named-checked the EMS workers, and asked what they see in their careers. As Men's Health noted, the responses were definitely illuminating: Burns? Car crashes? Nope, and nope.

It turns out the reason an ambulance driver is likely to visit is even more simple. As the top response puts it: "When patients don't take their medicine." Yes, one of the most common things EMS workers have to save people from is skimping on their medication, especially for those who are diabetic or have high blood pressure.

Related: The Best 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan

"Lots of type 2 diabetics don't take their Metformin or change their diet/exercise simply out of denial or they are too set in their ways. End up with bad kidney failure or heart problems," the EMS professional said on the Reddit chain. "Additionally, had a patient who refused to take their medicine for their high blood pressure. No reason, just refused. Ended up with a brain bleed on his brain stem, was a quadriplegic, on a ventilator, could not speak, move, or breathe on his own.... he was in his 30s. Take your medicine people."

Related: What Eating for Healthy Blood Pressure Looks Like

Other redditors spoke up, offering their own stories of relatives and friends who encountered strokes, heart complications, and other near-death experiences by simply refusing to take their medications for high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. And—no surprise—it affected them heavily, especially as some of them never fully recovered and spend their lives in a weakened, lethargic state.

Related: The Dangers of Skipping Meals When You Have Diabetes

Shocking, yes! Yet, if you consider the numbers, it makes sense: Around 125,000 people die each year from not taking prescribed medications, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The takeaway? Adjusting medications without consulting a doctor is dangerous. And if you've been diagnosed with diabetes, know that making an effort to adjust your diet and to exercise can add years to your life.