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HHS HealthBeat (April 23, 2014)

When medications fight

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Many older people have a number of chronic health problems, and take medications for them. Sometimes those medications don’t work well together – a side effect of a treatment for one condition can make another condition worse.

At Yale University, Jonathan Lorgunpai looked at data on more than 5,800 older people:

“A fifth of older adults are receiving at least one medication for a chronic condition they have that could adversely affect a coexisting chronic condition.”

Balancing the potential benefits and harms of these drugs can be a tricky job for a doctor.  Lorgunpai says patients and doctors should work together to identify their health care goals and base treatment decisions on those goals.

The study in the journal PLOS One was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: April 23, 2014