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Shveaa DirectoryArticle Details

Medication and Older Adults

Date Added: August 17, 2015 06:42:16 PM
Author: ZapperNews
Category: Health

You are a partner in your health care. This is a partnership between you, your doctor, and your pharmacist. You need to be assertive and knowledgeable about the medications you take. � The Food and Drug Administration is also working to make drugs safer for older adults, who consume a large share of the nation's medications. Adults over age 65 buy 30 percent of all prescription drugs and 40 percent of all over-the-counter drugs. � "Almost every drug that comes through FDA [for approval] has been examined for effects in the elderly," says Robert Temple, M.D., associate director for medical policy in FDA's Office of Drug Evaluation and Research. "If the manufacturer hasn't done a study in the elderly, we ask for it." � More than 15 years ago, the agency established guidelines for drug manufacturers to include more elderly patients in their studies of new drugs. Upper age limits for drugs were eliminated, and even patients who had other health problems were given the green light to participate if they were able. Also, drugs known to pass primarily through the liver and kidneys must be studied in patients with malfunctions of those organs. This has a direct benefit for older adults, who are more likely to have these conditions. � In several surveys, FDA discovered that drug manufacturers had been using older adults in their drug studies; however, they weren't examining that age group for different reactions to the drugs. Now, they do. Today, every new prescription drug has a section in the labeling about its use in the elderly. � Says Temple, "The FDA has done quite a bit and worked fully with academia and industry to change drug testing so that it does analyze the data from elderly patients. We're quite serious about wanting these analyses." � When More Isn't Necessarily Better � Of all the problems older adults face in taking medication, drug interactions are probably the most dangerous. When two or more drugs are mixed in the body, they may interact with each other and produce uncomfortable or even dangerous side effects. This is especially a problem for older adults because they are much more likely to take more than one drug. Two-thirds of adults over age 65 use one or more drugs each day, and a quarter of them take three drugs each day. � Not all drug combinations are bad. High blood pressure is often treated with several different drugs in low doses. Unless supervised by a doctor, however, taking a mixture of drugs can be dangerous. � For example, a person who takes a blood-thinning medication for high blood pressure should not combine that with aspirin, which will thin the blood even more. And antacids can interfere with certain drugs for Parkinson's disease, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Before prescribing any new drug to an older patient, a doctor should be aware of all the other drugs the patient may be taking. � "Too often, older people get more drugs without a reassessment of their previous medications," says Feinberg. "That can be disastrous." � There is also evidence that older adults tend to be more sensitive to drugs than younger adults are, due to their generally slower metabolisms and organ functions. As people age, they lose muscle tissue and gain fat tissue, and their digestive systems, liver, and kidney functions slow down. All this affects how a drug will be absorbed into the bloodstream, react in the organs, and how quickly it will be eliminated. The old adage "Start low and go slow" applies especially to the elderly. � Older adults who experience dizziness, constipation, upset stomach, sleep changes, diarrhea, incontinence, blurred vision, mood changes, or a rash after taking a drug should call their doctors. The following suggestions may also help: � �

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