An older medication, long abandoned, has been found to lower risk of death in heart failure patients. Digoxin, a drug previously eliminated as a heart failure medication has proved that it may reduce the risk, by 1/3, of individuals who have been diagnosed with heart failure from being re-admitted to the hospital within a 30 day span. Dr. Ali Ahmed, head researcher said, “if these findings can be replicated in contemporary older heart failure patients discharged from the hospital, Digoxin may provide an inexpensive tool to reduce 30-day all-cause hospital re-admissions.” Approximately 5.8 million individuals in the U.S. have been diagnosed with heart failure. More here
New research has found that people who suffer from mild asthma may be better off to inhale their prescribed steroid medication only when they are experiencing symptoms or an attack, rather than twice daily as most physicians recommend. Using this method, mild asthma sufferers will decrease the amount of drugs their bodies take in daily and reduce the risk of complications such as side effects. Using steroid medications only when needed will also cut down the amount of money spent on drugs yearly. More here
Studies are now suggesting that early dementia screening may be of value even without medication that can help slow the disease. Home care, counseling, and brain exercise have now been proven to help individuals suffering from dementia. Dementia screening has recently been added to wellness visits offered through medicare free of charge. Individuals on Medicare are entitled to screening under the Affordable Care Act. Last year only 9% of Medicare patients took advantage of the offered dementia screening. More here
Adverse drug reactions have been proven to occur more often and in many cases become more severe with the elderly. Adverse drug reactions are ranked 5th in leading causes of death in the U.S. Studies have shown that elderly adults, ages 65 and above are two to four times more likely to have harmful effects after taking certain medication. Researchers believe many circumstances can cause adverse drug reactions such as body weight. More here
A new procedure is being tested in the United States to help people with resistant hypertension. Resistant hypertension is a condition where high blood pressure fails to normalize even after taking prescribed medication. Resistant hypertension affects approximately 1 in 11 people who suffer from high blood pressure. It can cause serious health risks such as heart attacks, kidney disease, strokes and heart failure. The procedure consists of a medical machine that sends short bursts of radio waves to kill the sympathetic nerves. Murray Esler, MD, PhD, professor and senior director of the Baker IDI Heart and diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia said “the sympathetic nerves are the stimulant nerves of the kidneys. They are commonly activated in high blood pressure”. More here
Americans are now spending more money on medication used to treat conditions that were formerly considered part of the normal aging process than they are on drugs to fight chronic diseases. The research, presented at the American Public Health Association’s 140th Meeting, found that anti-aging medications cost an average of $73.30 per individual user last year, 16 percent higher than the amount spent on both high blood pressure and heart disease medication. And the cost of anti-aging drugs has increased along with their popularity. Since 2006, the price of aging medications, such as those used to treat sexual dysfunction and mental alertness, has risen 46 percent. More here.
A patient’s beliefs about treatment options and the cause of a disease can influence their willingness to follow a prescribed medication regimen, according to a study by Todd Ruppar of the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. Ruppar’s research focused on older patients being treated for high blood pressure, which affects nearly 70 million Americans. According to Ruppar, patients often have underlying beliefs about the causes of high blood pressure and how it can be treated, which lead them to underuse their medication. If a patient, for example, believes they can effectively control their blood pressure through diet and exercise they are less likely to faithfully follow their prescribed medication regimen. Ruppar believes practitioners should encourage more frequent monitoring of blood pressure levels to help patients associate taking their pills with health benefits. More here.
A study of nearly 6,000 men with prostate cancer found that those taking aspirin regularly as part of their treatment had a lower risk of death than those who didn’t take any type of anticoagulants. The study, authored by Dr. Kevin Choe of UT Southwestern Medical Center, suggests men who have received surgery or radiation as a treatment for prostate cancer may benefit from taking aspirin. Aspirin, along with other anticoagulation medication, has been shown to inhibit cancer growth and metastasis but there has previously been little clinical data on the topic. Dr. Choe said the results of the study suggest aspirin prevents growth of tumor cells, though there needs to be more research before recommending it to all prostate cancer patients. More here.
A new study from Kansas State University and Michigan State University found that prescription drug warning labels are often ignored or overlooked by older adults. The researchers tracked eye movements to measure where different age groups concentrated their attention when given a bottle of prescription medication. According to the results, half of the participants over the age of 50 failed to notice the warning labels on the vial of medication they were given. By comparison, 90 percent of participants between the ages of 20 and 29 noticed the labels. The study highlights the need to make warning labels more noticeable in order to better capture patients’ attention. There are nearly 15 million medication errors each year in the United States and, because seniors often have more complicated medication instructions to follow, it is important that warning labels are noticeable and effective. More here.
Research from Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that 50 percent of patients hospitalized for a heart attack or heart failure made a mistake with their medication within a month of being discharged from the hospital. Among 851 participants, 50.8 percent had one or more clinically important medication errors, with 22.9 percent of them judged to be serious and 1.8 percent life threatening. Surprisingly, the numbers were as high among people who received guidance from a pharmacist as those who didn’t. Individuals who had a strong support system were least likely to make a mistake with their medication, primarily due to the fact that they were more likely to have a caregiver helping them with their recovery. The study highlights the need for more effective ways to help patients familiarize themselves with their drug names, interactions, and doses. More here and here.