Monday, January 5, 2009

Bad Drug Combo Risk - Seniors Are Not Alone

Dangerous mixing of pharmaceutical drugs is common among older people, a new study found. And that for the most part non-prescription (e.g. dietary supplements) drugs are responsible. So are seniors the only people who could be at risk.

The study published in recent issue of JAMA is based on the interviews of 2,976 people ages 57 through 85, between June 2005 and March 2006 about the medications they routinely used. It reported that about 15 million people within the age-group consumed about five drugs and/or supplements at the same time, increasing their risk of major drug-drug interactions.

It's true that of the 50 million people or so under consideration 1 in 25 individuals are at a risk of a major drug reaction. However, is it only the older adults who're at risk?

To some quite an extent this is true, because older adults (age 65 or over) are two and one-half times more likely to visit an emergency and are seven times more likely to be hospitalized for an adverse drug event than than younger individuals.

But they're not alone. This is so because average Americans in general are ten times more likely to be hospitalized from an adverse drug reaction than from a motor vehicle accident, according to Thomas Moore - the author of "Prescription for Disaster: the Hidden Dangers in Your Medicine Cabinet"

Note that it's still the average American than a senior who is at risk. The average American could be just about anyone, young and old.

The risk of adverse drug reactions is often increased by a bad mix of chemicals and because seniors are likely to take more medications the odds for them to suffer an adverse drug reaction are greater. But so is anyone who takes many drugs including those from a younger age group. In fact, according experts, those at risk include anyone who is very young, pregnant, and breastfeeding, or is hereditarily susceptible. And suffering from some diseases itself makes these individuals vulnerable.

I don't think all these conditions are exclusive to seniors. Also, if you consider drug interaction alone, I think only popping in a single medication can cause a reaction due to a bad mix of drugs. For example, simply consume alcohol when it doesn't mix well with a drug. The crux is a bad mix – just two incompatible drugs are sufficient to send a person to an emergency. And that only seniors would pop in such a combination isn't 100% guaranteed! Let alone diet supplements being the devil.

Posts, Possibly of Interest

Do Vitamin Supplements Prevent Cancer?

How Dietary Supplements Can Save Billions

Recession and Prescription Drug Abuse

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