As we age, we tend to enhance a number of long term health conditions and concerns such as frailty. Ordinarily, managing health problems can mean that older adults may take many medicinal drugs. When older adults take five or more drugs (known as “polypharmacy”) this will possibly increase the risk for unsafe side effects.
Taking more than five medicinal drugs is linked to frailty, might be when you consider that the medications have interaction to influence our ability to function well as we age. Frailty is a quandary related to getting older. Anybody who is frail will also be vulnerable, have less endurance, and be much less competent to function well. Frailty increases the chance for falls, disability, and even death.
Recently, a group of researchers examined data from a large German study of older adults called ESTHER (Epidemiological Study on Chances for Prevention, Early Detection, and Optimized Therapy of Chronic Diseases at Old Age) to know how taking greater than 5 medicines would impact frailty in older adults. The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The researchers looked at data from about 2,000 participants in the ESTHER study, which started out in 2000 with close to 10,000 participants. Follow-ups with subjects have been carried out after 2, 5, 8 and 11 years. Individuals in the study are aged between 50- and 75-years when the study began.
After 8 eight years, the study physicians visited the subjects at home for a geriatric comparison. During the study, subjects were asked to bring the entire drugs they took — each prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) — to determine the types and quantity of medications these individuals were taking. The researchers then classified subjects into three groups:
1. People who took from 0 to 4 medicines (non-polypharmacy)
2. People who took 5 to 9 medicines (polypharmacy)
3. People who took 10 or more medicines (hyper-polypharmacy)
Two pharmacists personally reviewed all medicines taken and excluded medicines and dietary supplements that weren’t recognized to cause side effects.
After adjusting for differences in subject characteristics including diseases, the researchers learned that individuals who have been at risk for frailty, as well as individuals who had been frail, had been more likely to be within the polypharmacy or hyper-polypharmacy groups compared with persons who weren’t frail. Researchers additionally discovered that subjects who took between 5 to 9 medicines had been 1.5 times more likely to emerge as frail within 3 years when compared with people who took fewer than 5 medicines.
Persons who took more than 10 drugs had been twice as likely to end up frail within three years as individuals who took less than five.
The researchers concluded that reducing multiple avoidable prescriptions for older adults could be a promising approach for lessening the hazards for frailty.
If you’re an older adult, or if you are caring for any person who is older, it is primary to have an understanding that taking multiple medicines can cause interactions. The drug treatments can interact with each other and with the human body in harmful ways (by increasing negative side effects or reducing desired effects, for example). Therefore, the hazard for falls, delirium, and frailty additionally increases.