Stop Drug Overdoses

Health Alert 134

If you take a prescription drug there’s a good chance you take too much. The medical system of dosing commonly results in this error. It can make you fatigued, constipated, dizzy, weak and depressed.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) estimated that 125,000 die each year from doctor prescribed drugs. But did you know that most of these deaths are elders? As you age your body loses its ability to rid itself of toxins. Adverse drug reactions are 2 to 3 times more likely in elders.1

Today you’ll learn why elders are more vulnerable to drug reactions. You’ll see how to protect yourself from becoming one of these statistics.

* Elders are Most Vulnerable *

About 80% of people over 65 use at least one drug.2 Elders often suffer from multiple chronic diseases. They then take several medications. Conflicting drugs interact. Some drugs make others more potent. Some inhibit your liver’s capacity to detoxify drugs. Others compromise your kidneys’ ability to excrete drugs.

As you age your liver shrinks. Less blood flows through it. Your kidney function has declined by 35% by age 80.3 Both of these cause you to eliminate drug more slowly. The drug can accumulate over time. This leads to toxic side effects.

Drug companies normally base dosing on middle age adults. Elders often require less. Elder men have twice as much fat as younger men. Elder women have about 33% more fat. This increases storage of fat soluble drugs.

Total body water decreases 15% by the age of 80. This will further concentrate water soluble drugs.4

Some medications interfere with vitamin absorption. For instance, drugs that inhibit stomach acid, like Pepcid, decrease vitamin B-12 absorption. Decreased vitamin B-12 leads to anemia. Anemia makes you weak and tired. It also increases your risk of death if you have heart disease.

* How to Take Medication Safely *

These complications to safe dosing in elders are complex and hard to predict. It’s another reason to avoid drugs when possible. This is especially important in elder men and women.

I try natural therapies before prescribing drugs. Good food, the right exercise, and supplements can treat most chronic problems.

If you are older, stay away from “statin” cholesterol drugs. Policosanol, ginger, and garlic are just as effective and much safer.

If you have high blood pressure, try CoQ10 before you agree to take blood pressure medication.

If you must take a drug, follow these tips to lower your risk:

• Be sure to tell your doctor all medications you take before taking a new med.

• Begin new meds on a low dose.

• Account for body composition, liver, and kidney function changes.

• If you feel any side effects, call your doctor.

• Never increase your dose without asking your doctor.

• Take Vitamin C 500mg per day to lower drug toxicity.

Al Sears, MD

1. Medications to Avoid in the Elderly.

2. Ratra, Gurpreet. Managing Your Medications.