Many medications can have adverse effects on elderly patients. While these drugs are relatively predictable in younger populations, those 65 and older can experience different or more intense reactions and side effects. Another contributing factor to adverse drug reactions (ADR) is the number of different medications that are often prescribed in combination to the elderly.
While some drugs produce adverse drug effects on their own, some medications produce contraindication when taken with other drugs. Contraindication is a health factor that renders a specific treatment, medication, or procedure inadvisable. While contraindication on its own sounds fairly basic—people with allergic reactions to certain drugs shouldn’t take those drugs and people with certain medical conditions can’t have certain treatments that put them at risk—not many people are aware that contraindication often occurs unnoticed in the elderly until irreparable harm has been done.
Elderly individuals make up about 12% of the nation’s population, and yet they consume 32% of medications prescribed in America (National Center for Biotechnology Information). Doctors often prescribe many drugs to individuals over 65 in order to treat the ailments that come with growing older as well as any preexisting conditions. However, doctors can sometimes prescribe overlapping medications that perform the same tasks, medications that interact with each other, or medications not suited for those over 65 without knowing it. This can even be the case when individuals take over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements.
Contraindication in drugs can cause many effects including sedation, hallucinations, cognitive impairment, heart and kidney failure, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and many more. There are many reasons why the elderly metabolize medications differently than younger adults. Because more mature individuals experience a decrease in lean body mass and water levels, water soluble medications are poorly distributed, resulting in high concentrations of the medication that stay in the body longer. Likewise, slower gastric movement and a decrease in kidney and liver function can increase the effect the drug has on the body.
Do not immediately discontinue the use of any medications you are currently taking until you consult your doctor and pharmacist about any side effects you or your family members are experiencing. Dr. Ben Abraham is a family practitioner specializing in geriatric medicine and understands the importance of listening to his patients and taking their concerns into account when prescribing medications. This is just one reason that Abraham Medical offers drug reaction analysis, where a provider will examine the types and number of drugs a person is taking closely in order to determine any contraindication, overlapping effects, or ADR.
Abraham Medical providers are invested in the wellbeing of its patients no matter what their age and understand the difficulties that come with managing multiple prescriptions. It is our goal to provide you and your family with the best patient care possible and fully address all your health concerns.