For many older Americans, it can be a challenge keeping track of all the prescription drugs they take. A new study finds some are taking a staggering number of medications. For those at risk for heart failure, researchers say some of those drugs might be making their problems worse.
A report by the American Heart Association reveals more than half of older heart failure patients leave the hospital with at least 10 prescription medications in their name. The study of 558 adults over the age of 65 finds a staggering 84 percent took five or more drugs before entering a hospital and 42 percent were taking over 10.
After the group’s hospital stay, it turns out doctors prescribed even more medications for these seniors. Nearly every patient (95%) had been prescribed at least five medications and 55 percent were taking over 10 after discharge.
“High medication burden, also known as polypharmacy, is commonly associated with adverse events and reactions,” says study senior author Parag Goyal in a media release. “As the treatment options for various conditions including heart failure expand and the population ages, it is becoming increasingly important to weigh the risks and possible benefits of multiple medications.”
What are all these drugs even doing?
The study focuses on American seniors on Medicare hospitalized between 2003 and 2014. The entire group was also part of the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study; monitoring the health of 30,000 participants since 2003.
Researchers reveal that polypharmacy practices have only gone up since the beginning of the study. While 41 percent of seniors hospitalized from 2003 to 2006 had over 10 medications, that number skyrocketed to 68 percent between 2011 and 2014.
Study authors broke these drugs into different categories according to the conditions they
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