Health Watch: How seniors can avoid medication mistakes
Studies show that up to 30 percent of hospital admissions of elderly patients are linked to harmful effects of medications and other related problems.
If you're older than 65 and take multiple medications, you should be aware of potential interactions between your drugs. These interactions can cause unwanted side effects, reduce the effectiveness of your medicine, or even lead to hospitalization.
Many people not only take more than one medication, but also may see more than one doctor. It is important to inform all your doctors -- especially your primary care physician -- about all the medications you take to avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions.
"As a patient, you need to be watchful about your care and your medications," says Dr. Joseph Addiego, chief medical officer of Prescription Solutions, a pharmacy benefits management company. "If you are seeing multiple doctors, keep a list of all your medications and take it to each doctor's appointment. If you have questions, always feel free to ask your doctor or pharmacist."
Addiego recommends the following tips to ensure safe medication use:
1. Share information with your primary care physician and other health care providers about all the medications you are taking to avoid negative drug interactions and reduce the potential for side effects. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the-counter medications.
2. Use only one pharmacy, one pharmacy chain or one pharmacy benefits manager for all your prescription medicines. This helps your pharmacist monitor which medications you take so he or she can let you know about drug interactions.
3. Read carefully the information that comes with your medication and save it for future reference.
4. Take all your medicines exactly as directed, and continue taking all your medicines until the doctor says to stop.
5. Call your doctor, pharmacist or pharmacy benefits manager if you are experiencing side effects from your medication before you stop taking it.
While medication interactions are a serious problem, there are programs that can help health care providers and patients avoid medication problems. For example, Prescription Solutions a program called the Drug Interaction Alert Program, which alerts the prescribing physician of the potential dangerous interaction between medications for a specific patient. Another program, called Geriatric Rx Monitor, alerts the physician about medications that are not safe for use in older patients.
Check with your pharmacy or pharmacy benefits manager about programs that can help protect you from dangerous medication interactions, and be sure to talk to your doctor about all your medications at your next visit.
New research: Tai Chi needs more health studies
Tai Chi, a low-impact martial art, has been associated with reduced stress, anxiety and depression. A systematic review of the subject found that although Tai Chi does appear to have positive psychological effects, more high quality, randomized trials are needed.
Researchers pooled the results of 40 studies, including 17 randomized controlled trials. They found that practicing Tai Chi was associated with reduced stress, anxiety, depression and mood disturbance, and increased self-esteem.
The quality of the studies identified was generally modest, however. In particular, rigorous, prospective, well controlled randomized trials with appropriate comparison groups and validated outcome measures are generally lacking.
-- BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Did You Know?
Young girls who drink soda have less healthy diets through adolescence than peers who do not drink soda, according to a Penn State study.
Health Tip: Protect your eyes during sports
More than 40,000 people a year suffer eye injuries while playing sports.
Almost all sports-related eye injuries can be prevented. Take the following steps to avoid sports eye injuries:
- Wear proper safety goggles (lensed polycarbonate protectors) for racquet sports or basketball.
- Use batting helmets with polycarbonate face shields for youth baseball.
- Use helmets and face shields approved by the U.S. Amateur Hockey Association when playing hockey.
- Know that regular glasses don't provide enough protection.
Number to Know: 6 million
Scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine, affects an estimated 6 million people in the United States, according to the National Scoliosis Foundation.
Children’s Health: Benefits of smoke-free air laws
Researchers have found that children and adolescents living in non-smoking homes in counties with laws promoting smoke-free public places have significantly lower levels of a common biomarker of secondhand smoke exposure.
The children living in non-smoking homes in U.S. counties with smoke-free laws had 39 percent lower prevalence of cotinine in their blood, an indicator of tobacco smoke exposure, compared to those living in counties with no smoke-free laws.
Children living in homes with smokers exhibited little or no benefit from the smoke-free laws.
-- Harvard School of Public Health
Senior Health: Falling linked to slow blood flow
A new study shows that slower than normal blood flow in the brain due to high blood pressure and other conditions may lead to falls in elderly people.
Researchers said the findings suggest there could be a new strategy for preventing falls, such as daily exercise and using statins and treatments for high blood pressure.
Each year, unintentional falls in the United States account for more than 16,000 deaths and 1.8 million emergency room visits.
-- American Academy of Neurology
GateHouse News Service