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      The epidemiology of polypharmacy in older adults: register-based prospective cohort study

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          Abstract

          Objective

          Polypharmacy is the concomitant use of several drugs by a single person, and it increases the risk of adverse drug-related events in older adults. Little is known about the epidemiology of polypharmacy at the population level. We aimed to measure the prevalence and incidence of polypharmacy and to investigate the associated factors.

          Methods

          A prospective cohort study was conducted using register data with national coverage in Sweden. A total of 1,742,336 individuals aged ≥65 years at baseline (November 1, 2010) were included and followed until death or the end of the study (December 20, 2013).

          Results

          On average, individuals were exposed to 4.6 (SD =4.0) drugs at baseline. The prevalence of polypharmacy (5+ drugs) was 44.0%, and the prevalence of excessive polypharmacy (10+ drugs) was 11.7%. The incidence rate of polypharmacy among individuals without polypharmacy at baseline was 19.9 per 100 person-years, ranging from 16.8% in individuals aged 65–74 years to 33.2% in those aged ≥95 years (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] =1.49, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.42–1.56). The incidence rate of excessive polypharmacy was 8.0 per 100 person-years. Older adults using multi-dose dispensing were at significantly higher risk of developing incident polypharmacy compared with those receiving ordinary prescriptions (HR =1.51, 95% CI 1.47–1.55). When adjusting for confounders, living in nursing home was found to be associated with lower risks of incident polypharmacy and incident excessive polypharmacy (HR =0.79 and HR =0.86, p<0.001, respectively).

          Conclusion

          The prevalence and incidence of polypharmacy are high among older adults in Sweden. Interventions aimed at reducing the prevalence of polypharmacy should also target potential incident polypharmacy users as they are the ones who fuel future polypharmacy.

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          Most cited references41

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          Polypharmacy in elderly patients.

          Polypharmacy (ie, the use of multiple medications and/or the administration of more medications than are clinically indicated, representing unnecessary drug use) is common among the elderly. The goal of this research was to provide a description of observational studies examining the epidemiology of polypharmacy and to review randomized controlled studies that have been published in the past 2 decades designed to reduce polypharmacy in older adults. Materials for this review were gathered from a search of the MEDLINE database (1986-June 2007) and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1986-June 2007) to identify articles in people aged >65 years. We used a combination of the following search terms: polypharmacy, multiple medications, polymedicine, elderly, geriatric, and aged. A manual search of the reference lists from identified articles and the authors' article files, book chapters, and recent reviews was conducted to identify additional articles. From these, the authors identified those studies that measured polypharmacy. The literature review found that polypharmacy continues to increase and is a known risk factor for important morbidity and mortality. There are few rigorously designed intervention studies that have been shown to reduce unnecessary polypharmacy in older adults. The literature review identified 5 articles, which are included here. All studies showed an improvement in polypharmacy. Many studies have found that various numbers of medications are associated with negative health outcomes, but more research is needed to further delineate the consequences associated with unnecessary drug use in elderly patients. Health care professionals should be aware of the risks and fully evaluate all medications at each patient visit to prevent polypharmacy from occurring.
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            The rising tide of polypharmacy and drug-drug interactions: population database analysis 1995–2010

            Background The escalating use of prescribed drugs has increasingly raised concerns about polypharmacy. This study aims to examine changes in rates of polypharmacy and potentially serious drug-drug interactions in a stable geographical population between 1995 and 2010. Methods This is a repeated cross-sectional analysis of community-dispensed prescribing data for all 310,000 adults resident in the Tayside region of Scotland in 1995 and 2010. The number of drug classes dispensed and the number of potentially serious drug-drug interactions (DDIs) in the previous 84 days were calculated, and age-sex standardised rates in 1995 and 2010 compared. Patient characteristics associated with receipt of ≥10 drugs and with the presence of one or more DDIs were examined using multilevel logistic regression to account for clustering of patients within primary care practices. Results Between 1995 and 2010, the proportion of adults dispensed ≥5 drugs doubled to 20.8%, and the proportion dispensed ≥10 tripled to 5.8%. Receipt of ≥10 drugs was strongly associated with increasing age (20–29 years, 0.3%; ≥80 years, 24.0%; adjusted OR, 118.3; 95% CI, 99.5–140.7) but was also independently more common in people living in more deprived areas (adjusted OR most vs. least deprived quintile, 2.36; 95% CI, 2.22–2.51), and in people resident in a care home (adjusted OR, 2.88; 95% CI, 2.65–3.13). The proportion with potentially serious drug-drug interactions more than doubled to 13% of adults in 2010, and the number of drugs dispensed was the characteristic most strongly associated with this (10.9% if dispensed 2–4 drugs vs. 80.8% if dispensed ≥15 drugs; adjusted OR, 26.8; 95% CI 24.5–29.3). Conclusions Drug regimens are increasingly complex and potentially harmful, and people with polypharmacy need regular review and prescribing optimisation. Research is needed to better understand the impact of multiple interacting drugs as used in real-world practice and to evaluate the effect of medicine optimisation interventions on quality of life and mortality. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0322-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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              Managing patients with multimorbidity in primary care.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Clin Epidemiol
                Clin Epidemiol
                Clinical Epidemiology
                Clinical Epidemiology
                Dove Medical Press
                1179-1349
                2018
                12 March 2018
                : 10
                : 289-298
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
                [2 ]University Hospital of Limoges, Service de Pharmacologie, Toxicologie et Pharmacovigilance, Limoges, France
                [3 ]Faculté de Médecine, Université de Limoges, Limoges, France
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Lucas Morin, Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institutet, 113 30 Stockholm, Gävlegatan 16, Sweden, Tel +46 7 22 887 094, Email lucas.morin@ 123456ki.se
                Article
                clep-10-289
                10.2147/CLEP.S153458
                5856059
                29559811
                2180979a-cd9d-4c12-9e3b-f0942b7d9187
                © 2018 Morin et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                History
                Categories
                Original Research

                Public health
                drugs,older adults,polypharmacy,prescribing,medication,elderly
                Public health
                drugs, older adults, polypharmacy, prescribing, medication, elderly

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