Inappropriate Drug Use Common Among Elderly

Elderly in Eastern Europe have more
difficulties than their Western peers
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Use of potentially inappropriate medications in elderly patients is a major health care concern, according to background information in the article.

It is likely to increase the risk of adverse drug events, which are estimated to be the fifth most common cause of death among hospitalised patients and which account for a large number of hospital admissions and a substantial increase in health care costs.

In Europe, little information has been available about potentially inappropriate medication use and is based on small studies with uncertain generalisability. Daniela Fialová, Pharm.D., of Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, and colleagues conducted a study to determine from a large sample of European home care elderly patients the prevalence of potentially inappropriate medication use.

The study included 2,707 elderly patients receiving home care (average age, 82.2 years) in European metropolitan areas. Combining three sets of expert panels criteria, the researchers found that 19.8 percent of patients in the total sample used at least 1 inappropriate medication; using older 1997 criteria it was 9.8 percent to 10.9 percent. Substantial differences were documented between Eastern Europe (41.1 percent in the Czech Republic) and Western Europe (average 15.8 percent, ranging from 5.8 percent in Denmark to 26.5 percent in Italy).

Potentially inappropriate medication use was associated with patient's poor economic situation (nearly two times increased risk), polypharmacy (nearly twice the risk), anxiolytic drug use (1.8 times increased risk), and depression (1.3 times increased risk). The odds of potentially inappropriate medication use significantly increased with the number of associated factors.

Individuals aged 85 years or older and those living alone were less likely to receive inappropriate medications.; Source: American Medical Association (AMA)