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Senior Health

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It’s important for everyone to know the risks of prescription drugs and medical devices before they are taken or implanted. This is especially true for seniors.

Facts About Seniors and Medication

  • According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, around 81 percent of seniors take prescription medication.
  • Nearly 100,000 emergency room visits by older adults (starting at age 65) occur annually due to adverse drug reactions.
  • Over 40 percent of people over age 65 take five to nine medications every day.
  • The American Geriatric Society provides physicians with a list of potentially inappropriate medication for older adults, based on factors meeting the “Beers Criteria,” which was last updated in 2012 to include 48 medications that may lead to adverse reaction.

Drugs and Medical Devices Every Senior Needs to Be Aware of

Actos (pioglitazone), Takeda, 1999

  • Purpose: to manage type 2 diabetes
  • Complications: Heart failure, blurred vision, lactic acidosis, bone fractures and bladder cancer
  • Note to diabetes patients: Insulin overdosing is a common problem that can lead to hospitalization, so monitoring diet, activities and insulin dosage is important.

Avandia (rosiglitazone), GlaxoSmithKline, 1999

  • Purpose: to manage type 2 diabetes
  • Complications: edema, difficulty breathing, fast heartbeat, dark urine, yellowing of eyes or skin, nausea, abdominal pain, vision problems, bone fractures, heart attacks and congestive heart failure

Byetta/Bydureon (exenatide), Amylin, 2005

  • Purpose: to manage type 2 diabetes
  • Complications: pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, kidney damage

Crestor (rosuvastatin), AstraZeneca, 2003

  • Purpose: to prevent heart attacks by blocking cholesterol buildup
  • Complications: muscle deterioration, cardiomyopathy, type 2 diabetes, memory loss, kidney and liver damage, organ failure, heart problems and death

Fosamax (alendronate sodium), Merck, 1995

  • Purpose: to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women; to prevent and treat bone conditions like male osteoporosis and Paget’s disease
  • Complications: ONJ (jaw death), joint and muscle pain, irregular heartbeat, inflammation and ulcers of the esophagus

Granuflo and NaturaLyte, Fresenius Medical Care, 2003

  • Purpose: to treat acute and chronic kidney failure; used in hemodialysis solutions
  • Complications: metabolic alkalosis, which can lead to irregular heartbeat, low potassium and oxygen, and high carbon dioxide and death

Januvia/Janumet (sitagliptin), Merck & Co., 2006

  • Purpose: to manage type 2 diabetes
  • Complications: pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, kidney problems

Pradaxa (dabigatran), Boehringer Ingelheim, 2010

  • Purpose: blood thinner used to prevent strokes
  • Complications: uncontrolled bleeding, heart attack, liver failure and death

Tradjenta, Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly, 2011

  • Purpose: to manage type 2 diabetes
  • Complications: pancreatitis

Victoza (liraglutide), Novo Nordisk, 2010

  • Purpose: to manage type 2 diabetes
  • Complications: pancreatitis, thyroid cancer

Hip Replacements

  • In 2010, more than 450,000 hip replacements were performed in America, mostly on seniors.
  • Main manufacturers: DePuy, Stryker, and Zimmer, Smith and Nephew, Biomet and Wright Medical
  • Problematic implants: Pinnacle, ASR, Durom Cup
  • Complications: metal parts rubbing against each other can release toxic ions, loosening of parts, bone fractures, dislocation, necrosis, improper alignment, revision surgeries

Knee Replacements

  • In 2010, nearly 700,000 knee replacements were performed in America, mostly on seniors.
  • Manufacturers: Zimmer, DePuy, Smith and Nephew, Stryker and Biomet
  • Problematic devices:  NexGen  High-Flex
  • Complications: loosening of implant, bone loss, dislocation, bone fracture, infection, necrosis

Transvaginal Mesh

  • Purpose: medical device that treats pelvic organ prolapse in women
  • Complications: mesh erosion, organ perforation, revision surgery
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