Author Topic: Dangerous drug combos pose risk for elderly  (Read 669 times)

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Offline Americanhero1

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Dangerous drug combos pose risk for elderly
« on: December 24, 2008, 10:10:12 AM »
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Older adults in the United States are popping prescription pills, over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements in record numbers, and in combinations that could be deadly, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

They said more than half of U.S. adults aged 57 to 85 are using five or more prescription or non-prescription drugs, and one in 25 are taking them in combinations that could cause dangerous drug interactions.

"Older adults in the United States use medicine and they use a lot of it," said Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau of the University of Chicago Medical Center in Illinois, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"While medications are often beneficial, they are not always safe," she said in a telephone interview.

She noted a recent report that estimated U.S. adults over 65 make up more than 175,000 emergency department visits a year for adverse drug reactions, and commonly prescribed drugs accounted for a third of these visits.

For the study, Lindau teamed up with Dima Qato, a pharmacist and researcher at the University of Chicago. They used data from a national survey of adults aged 57 to 85 and interviews with nearly 3,000 people in their homes to get a read on the medications they used on a regular basis.

They analyzed potential interactions among the top 20 prescription and over-the-counter drugs and the top 20 dietary supplements, and found that 68 percent of adults surveyed who took prescription drugs also used over-the-counter drugs or dietary supplements.

Men in the 75 to 85-year-old age group were at the highest risk, they said. "One in 10 men between the ages of 75 to 85 were at risk for a drug-to-drug interaction," Qato said in a telephone interview.


Nearly half of the potential drug-to-drug interactions could cause bleeding problems. The blood thinner warfarin, often sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. under the brand name Coumadin, was most commonly cited in potentially dangerous combinations.

Some 2 million Americans take warfarin after a heart attack, stroke or major surgery. The team found warfarin was commonly teamed up with aspirin, a drug often taken to prevent heart attacks that also interferes with clotting.

Warfarin and the cholesterol-lowering statin drug simvastatin, which is sold by Merck & Co under the brand name Zocor, was another combination that could cause potential bleeding risks.

Among non-prescription drugs, they found many people were taking the popular nutritional supplement Ginkgo biloba in combination with aspirin, another potential cause of bleeding.

The team was reassured that they found no instances of people taking absolutely forbidden drug combinations, but the finding of widespread use of drugs that could cause major drug reactions was worrisome.

"We think the patient needs to know about these risks," Qato said.

The researchers recommend patients carry a list in a wallet or purse of all of the drugs and supplements they take.

And they said doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals should remember to ask about all of the medications their patients are taking.

Offline Rubystars

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Re: Dangerous drug combos pose risk for elderly
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2008, 11:18:46 AM »
One of the bad things about older people is that they don't generally know how to use the internet or are suspicious of it. This isn't true of all old people but it's true of many of them. You can't always trust doctors to tell you about all the side effects or interactions of a drug, but most of this information can be easily checked online. When I'm not sure if I can take one medicine with another I usually use an interaction checker and while it won't catch everything, it provides a good general guide.

Also one time a doctor prescribed some medicine for me and I decided not to take it after looking up the side effects.

Usually doctors just find out what your problem is and write you a prescription for it, they might ask you if you're taking something else but they usually don't ask about over the counter medicines or herbs someone might be taking.

Some herbs can be just as powerful as medicines and can have just as bad of side effects and can interact with other medicines. Also their strength can be inconsistent if they're not standardized well so one pill could be strong and another weak, which could mess with your system and the other drugs you're taking.

I think the generation that is younger now will have less of these types of problems when we are old because we or the people taking care of us will know to double check these things for ourselves and not just take something because a doctor says to.

Offline Lewinsky Stinks, Dr. Brennan Rocks

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Re: Dangerous drug combos pose risk for elderly
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2008, 02:42:07 AM »
Let's just hope that Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela stop asking their doctors about interaction risks.