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MANY MEDICINES

MANY OLDER PEOPLE CAN SUCCESSFULLY REDUCE THE NUMBER OF MEDICATIONS THEY’RE TAKING, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS

Polypharmacy is medicalese for someone who is taking many medications.  Predictably, as people age their risk of polypharmacy increases as they develop a range of conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart failure.  Now a study in Annals of Internal Medicine describes a way to systematically reduce the number of medicines a senior takes.  Michele Bellantoni, a geriatrics expert at Johns Hopkins, says the study underscores her strategy.

BELLANTONI: I start with the whole approach of the individual patient, and their family members.  What are our goals here for your medical care?  Often it’s surprising.  As a physician I may think it is to live another 10 years, but in fact it is that I can go about my day without pain, be able to get out of my home and enjoy an activity, and what are my medicines I will need to get me to that level of function?  Beyond that I don’t want more medicine.  Unless the medicine is going to make a difference in what  I do today, I don’t want it.            :33

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.


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