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.
“Older adults in the United States use medicine and they use a lot of it,” said Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau of the Journal of the American Medical Association.in Illinois, whose study appears in the
“While medications are often beneficial, they are not always safe,” she said in a telephone interview.
By Julie Steenhuysen
She noted a recent report that estimated U.S. adults over 65 make up more than 175,000 emergency department visits a year for , 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 tookalso 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.