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10 Things You Need to Know Right Now About Taking Too Many Medications

Reader's Digest Logo By Kimberly Hiss of Reader's Digest | Slide 1 of 10: Typically defined as taking five or more medications at the same time, over-prescribing or polypharmacy has become a big problem, particularly among older adults. 'There are many factors contributing to the high rates of polypharmacy we're seeing, including patients living longer, more medicines coming on the market, and our fragmented health system, where care is often uncoordinated,' says Caleb Alexander, MD, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness. 'Prescription medicines serve an invaluable role in the treatment of many diseases, but millions of Americans are on medicines they may no longer need.' In fact a 2015 survey by Harvard researchers found that 39 percent of adults over 65 take five or more medications, which is a 70 percent increase over a 12-year period. 'It's stunning how much more of this I'm seeing,' says Gary L. LeRoy, MD, a family physician in Dayton, Ohio, and a member of the board of the <a href="http://www.aafp.org/home.html">American Academy of Family Physicians</a>. 'I think electronic health records are helping us realize more patients are falling into polypharmacy, because instead of handwritten charts we can now electronically follow people's prescriptions.'

Over-prescribing is on the rise

Are you a victim of over-prescribing? This can lead to dangerous drug interactions. Find out whether it's time to downsize your drugs.

Typically defined as taking five or more medications at the same time, over-prescribing or polypharmacy has become a big problem, particularly among older adults. 'There are many factors contributing to the high rates of polypharmacy we're seeing, including patients living longer, more medicines coming on the market, and our fragmented health system, where care is often uncoordinated,' says Caleb Alexander, MD, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness. 'Prescription medicines serve an invaluable role in the treatment of many diseases, but millions of Americans are on medicines they may no longer need.' In fact a 2015 survey by Harvard researchers found that 39 percent of adults over 65 take five or more medications, which is a 70 percent increase over a 12-year period. 'It's stunning how much more of this I'm seeing,' says Gary L. LeRoy, MD, a family physician in Dayton, Ohio, and a member of the board of the American Academy of Family Physicians. 'I think electronic health records are helping us realize more patients are falling into polypharmacy, because instead of handwritten charts we can now electronically follow people's prescriptions.'
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