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Polypharmacy Common in Seniors With Heart Failure

With increasing number of medications, more rapid increase seen in number of noncardiovascular meds

THURSDAY, Oct. 15, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Polypharmacy, defined as taking 10 or more medications, is common at admission and hospital discharge among older adults with heart failure, according to a study published online Oct. 13 in Circulation: Heart Failure.

Ozan Unlu, M.D., from Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, and colleagues studied 558 older adults (aged ≥65 years) with adjudicated heart failure hospitalizations from 380 U.S. hospitals to examine real-world data on polypharmacy.

The researchers found that most participants took five or more medications (84 percent at admission and 95 percent at discharge); and many took 10 or more medications (42 percent at admission and 55 percent at discharge). During the study period, there was an increase in the prevalence of taking 10 or more medications (polypharmacy). With an increasing total number of medications, the number of noncardiovascular medications increased more rapidly than the number of heart failure-related or non-heart failure-related cardiovascular medications.

“Our study also showed that the majority of medications taken by older adults with HF [heart failure] are noncardiovascular medications, some of which may have limited benefit,” the authors write. “Taken together, our findings support the need to develop strategies to mitigate the negative effects of polypharmacy among older adults with HF, potentially starting with formalized processes that can improve prescribing practices for noncardiovascular medications.”

Two authors disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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