People with dementia are likely to have taken more than three medications for other health conditions in the five years directly before their diagnosis, according to new research. [Source: medicalxpress.com]
There is no doubt that ‘polypharmacy’ – the simultaneous use of multiple pharmaceutical drugs – can be highly dangerous. This is especially the case in older people. A study published in 2016 found that older people taking multiple pharmaceutical drugs face a significantly greater risk of frailty, disability, and death. Following 1,705 men aged 70 and older over a nine-year period, the researchers found that each additional medication added to a patient’s regimen was associated with a 22 percent increased risk of going from a state of robust health to dying during the period of the study.
Other studies have made similar findings. Research published in 2018 shows patients who survive cancer are likely to be prescribed five or more different medications on a long-term basis, and that this increases their risk of experiencing adverse drug events. Polypharmacy is additionally associated with increased all-cause mortality, macrovascular complications, and hospitalization in older people with type 2 diabetes, as well as a decreased quality of life in patients with advanced illness.