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Polypharmacy Prevalent Among Older Adults With Blood Cancers

Taking eight or more medications strongly associated with frailty; odds of being prefrail, frail increased with each additional med

THURSDAY, Aug. 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — For older adults with blood cancers, taking eight or more medications is associated with frailty, according to a study published in the August issue of the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Tammy T. Hshieh, M.D., M.P.H., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues quantified the total number of medications and potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) using the Anticholinergic Risk Scale (ARS) and the Geriatric Oncology Potentially Inappropriate Medications (GO-PIM) scale among 785 patients aged 75 years and older with blood cancers presenting for an initial oncology consult. Using deficit accumulation and phenotypic approaches, patients were determined to be robust, prefrail, or frail.

The researchers found that 77 percent of the patients were taking at least five medications and 54 percent were taking at least eight. Overall, 25 and 44 percent were taking at least one PIM based on the ARS and GO-PIM scales, respectively. Taking at least eight medications was associated with frailty among the 60 percent of patients who were on active cancer treatment (adjusted odds ratio, 2.82). The odds of being prefrail or frail were increased with each additional medication (adjusted odds ratio, 1.08). With each additional 1-point increase on the ARS or one PIM on the GO-PIM scale, the odds of being prefrail or frail increased 19 and 65 percent, respectively.

“We found the GO-PIMs scale we created based on this list carried the strongest association with frailty and can be used by oncology teams to help decrease inappropriate medication usage in an effective way to potentially improve patients’ overall health,” Hshieh said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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