Dec 30, 2008
A recent study suggests that approximately two million Americans could be taking medications and/or supplements that could cause negative interactions. While older people are at more risk – half take five or more prescriptions, vitamins, or dietary supplements – some of these interactions are potentially life-threatening. The study showed that 175,000 emergency room visits per year are related to adverse drug interactions. Although drug interactions do not always cause serious reactions, many medicines and supplements do not require prescriptions, and patients assume that they are safe without consulting their doctor about possible side effects and drug-to-drug interactions. Experts advise that patients should always consult their physician when taking any medications or supplements. The report showing just how many older people are using risky combinations comes from a study of nearly 3,000 interviews with people aged 57 to 85. The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health and University of Chicago, appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. Ninety percent in this age group use at least one medication, and as people grow older, the number of medications used increases. The study highlights a few common potentially harmful interactions.