To Prevent Drug Interactions, Communication Is Key

Jan 26, 2018

A lack of communication between older adults and their health care providers could be putting patients at risk of drug interactions.

Many older adults are at a higher risk of drug interactions due to the number of medications they take. Interactions occur when two medications (or a drug and another substance) react with one another inside the body. These interactions can cause multiple problems, including how well the drug works or life-threatening side effects.

But new findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging suggest that increasing communication with your health care provider could lower your risk of drug interactions. This new poll looked at nearly 1,700 patients between the ages of 50 and 80 who were taking at least one prescription drug.

Around a third of poll participants had spoken with a health care provider about medication interactions within the previous two years. For those taking at least six medications, that figure was 44 percent.

The researchers behind this poll suggested that the use of multiple doctors and pharmacies could increase the risk for confusion about possible drug interactions. They said both health care providers and patients should play an active part in preventing interactions.

Patients can help by doing the following:

  • Always asking their doctors and pharmacists about possible drug interactions
  • Bringing a written list of the names and doses of all medications and supplements they take to their doctors
  • Being honest about alcohol consumption with their health care providers
  • Talking to their doctor or pharmacist before stopping a medication because they were experiencing a side effect

AARP and Michigan Medicine sponsored this new poll.

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