Some People Would Rather Have a Shorter Life Than Take Meds

A collection of pills
(Image credit: Nenov Brothers Images/Shutterstock)

One in three people would rather live a slightly shorter life than take a daily pill to prevent cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.

In the study, researchers surveyed 1,000 people whose average age was 50, and asked how much time the participants would be willing to subtract from their lives to avoid taking daily medication for cardiovascular disease. More than 8 percent of the people surveyed said they would be willing to forfeit two years of their life, while about 21 percent said they would sacrifice between one week and one year of their lives to avoid taking a daily pill for cardiovascular disease.

The study "reinforces the idea that many people do not like taking pills, for whatever reason," said study author Dr. Robert Hutchins, a physician at the University of California, San Francisco Department of Medicine.

The researchers also asked the people in the study, in a hypothetical scenario,  how much money they would be willing to pay to not have to take the medication (but still enjoy its benefits). About 43 percent of them said they were unwilling to pay any amount of money, whereas about 21 percent said they would pay $1,000 or more in return for not having to take a pill every day.

"Most surprising, I think, was that there were a number of people who said there was a very large effect [of taking daily medication] on their quality of life, by any of the three [survey] methods," Hutchins told Live Science. [7 Bizarre Drug Side Effects]

Among the people in the study, 79 percent took at least one pill daily. Of the participants, 59 percent were female and 63 percent were white. Almost a third of the people did not have college degrees and about half had incomes between $25,000 and $75,000.

The people in the study were asked to assume that the pills they would hypothetically be taking were free, and that they had no side effects.

It is not clear exactly why some people were willing to pay money or sacrifice time from their lives to avoid taking daily medication, the researchers said in their study, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

"I would have really liked to have gotten to talk to those people, the 'outliers' so to speak, and find out what it was that they thought was so bad about taking a pill daily," Hutchins said.

The study was published today (Feb. 3) in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Follow Agata Blaszczak-Boxe on Twitter. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Originally published on Live Science.

Staff Writer