Adverse Drug Reactions in the Elderly

Can We Stem the Tide?

Shari J. Lynn


Am Nurs Journal. 2012;7(1) 

In This Article

Polypharmacy and Drug Interactions

Taking multiple drugs for multiple health conditions increases the risk of ADRs, especially in older adults. Although polypharmacy can be appropriate in cases of multiple comorbidities, prescribers must consider older adults' physiologic changes in organ function due to aging and disease. For instance, many elderly patients are prescribed warfarin concurrently with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or a lipid-lowering agent. This combination may increase the risk of bleeding (already increased by use of warfarin alone). But be aware that although elderly patients are at increased risk for ADRs, experts don't know what roles normal aging, comorbidities, and polypharmacy play in ADR incidence.


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