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more is not always better

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Polypharmacy: More is Not Always Better
Polypharmacy is defined as the concurrent use of multiple medications, usually taking more than four, in order to manage several different illnesses or decrease chances of serious complications but results in negative outcomes. This includes prescribed drugs, the over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, herbal remedies and dietary supplements. The combined use of these drugs can interrupt desired drug-drug or drug-body interactions which results in adverse drug reactions (ADR). Polypharmacy is especially prevalent among patients over age 60 due to several different reasons. About 1 in 3 elderly patients take more than 8 different drugs each day, with many taking 15 or more (Lilley, Rainforth, Snyder, 2012, p. 42). Elderly patients are more prone to develop age-related illnesses concurrently due to aging of body and physiological changes. As a result, elderly patients are more susceptible to have frequent occurrence of chronic diseases than younger populations. Although prescribing multiple medications are appropriate, it is inevitable to avoid the increased risk of ADR. This creates even more dangerous situation where side effects are misapprehended as symptoms of a disease and requiring stronger or more doses of additional medications. Polypharmacy is associated with an increased risk of falls, drug interactions, drug disease interactions, and drug errors (Oboh, 2013). Therefore, it’s significant to focus on cause and effect of polypharmacy so that health care professionals can prevent any preventable complications and ADR.
The Aging Body and Physiological Changes
Aging is a naturally occurring process accompanied with some major physiological changes such as declined or loss of organs and functions...

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...ions in the elderly. Anesthesiol Clin. 2009;27(3):377-389.
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Iglarsh, H. (2013). Polypharmacy: Combating inappropriate and excessive drug use. CAN, 8(2),4-7. Retrieved from http://www.cna.com
Lilley, Rainforth Collins & Snyder. (2012). Pharmacology and the nursing process, St.Louis, MO:Elsevier
Nobili A, Pasina L, Tettamanti M, et al. Potentially severe drug interactions in elderly outpatients: results of an observational study of an administrative prescription database. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2009;34(4):377-386.
Oboh, L. (2013). A pill for every ill: the dangers of polypharmacy in older people. Nursing &Residential care, 15(10), 666-669
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