Items in AFP with MESH term: Polypharmacy

Using Medications Appropriately in Older Adults - Article

ABSTRACT: Older Americans comprise 13 percent of the population, but they consume an average of 30 percent of all prescription drugs. Every day, physicians are faced with issues surrounding appropriate prescribing to older patients. Polypharmacy, use of supplements, adherence issues, and the potential for adverse drug events all pose challenges to effective prescribing. Knowledge of the interplay between aging physiology, chronic diseases, and drugs will help the physician avoid potential adverse drug events as well as drug-drug and drug-disease interactions. Evidence is now available showing that older patients may be underprescribed useful drugs, including aspirin for secondary prevention in high-risk patients, beta blockers following myocardial infarction, and warfarin for nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. There is also evidence that many older adults receive medications that could potentially cause more harm than good. Finding the right balance between too few and too many drugs will help ensure increased longevity, improved overall health, and enhanced functioning and quality of life for the aging population.

The Geriatric Assessment - Article

ABSTRACT: The geriatric assessment is a multidimensional, multidisciplinary assessment designed to evaluate an older person’s functional ability, physical health, cognition and mental health, and socioenvironmental circumstances. It is usually initiated when the physician identifies a potential problem. Specific elements of physical health that are evaluated include nutrition, vision, hearing, fecal and urinary continence, and balance. The geriatric assessment aids in the diagnosis of medical conditions; development of treatment and follow-up plans; coordination of management of care; and evaluation of long-term care needs and optimal placement. The geriatric assessment differs from a standard medical evaluation by including nonmedical domains; by emphasizing functional capacity and quality of life; and, often, by incorporating a multidisciplinary team. It usually yields a more complete and relevant list of medical problems, functional problems, and psychosocial issues. Well-validated tools and survey instruments for evaluating activities of daily living, hearing, fecal and urinary continence, balance, and cognition are an important part of the geriatric assessment. Because of the demands of a busy clinical practice, most geriatric assessments tend to be less comprehensive and more problem-directed. When multiple concerns are presented, the use of a “rolling” assessment over several visits should be considered.

Appropriate Use of Polypharmacy for Older Patients - Cochrane for Clinicians

Reducing the Risk of Adverse Drug Events in Older Adults - Article

ABSTRACT: Adverse drug events occur in 15 percent or more of older patients presenting to offices, hospitals, and extended care facilities. These events are potentially preventable up to 50 percent of the time. Common serious manifestations include falls, orthostatic hypotension, heart failure, and delirium. The most common causes of death are gastrointestinal or intracranial bleeding and renal failure. Antithrombotic and antidiabetic medications, diuretics, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs cause most of the preventable hospital admissions due to adverse drug events. Strategies to reduce the risk of adverse drug events include discontinuing medications, prescribing new medications sparingly, reducing the number of prescribers, and frequently reconciling medications. The Beers, STOPP (screening tool of older persons’ potentially inappropriate prescriptions), and START (screening tool to alert doctors to right treatment) criteria can help identify medications causing adverse drug events. Not all potentially inappropriate medications can be avoided. Clinicians should involve patients in shared decision making and individualize prescribing decisions based on medical, functional, and social conditions; quality of life; and prognosis.

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