(NaturalNews) Prescription drugs and the combination of those drugs and other medications are taking a heavy toll on elderly Americans, leading to risky hospitalizations, mental decline and death. And some of those drugs are worse than others.
A study published last November in the New England Journal of Medicine found that blood thinners and diabetes drugs caused most of the emergency hospital visits for drug reactions among people over 65 years of age in the United States. According to the study, just four medications - used alone or in combination - were responsible for two-thirds of the emergency hospitalizations among older adults.
At the top of the list was the blood thinner wayfarin, also known as Coumadin, which accounted for 33 percent of emergency hospital visits. Insulin injections came in second on the list, accounting for 14 percent of the visits. Aspirin, clopidogrel and other antiplatelet drugs prescribed to prevent blood clotting were third with 13 percent and just behind them were oral hypoglycemic drugs for diabetes which were responsible for 11 percent of the visits.
Last July, another study reported in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that over half the elderly were regularly prescribed dozens of painkillers, antihistamines and psychiatric medications called anticholinergics which lead to mental decline and death. Researchers found that those taking more than one anticholinergic drug scored lower on tests of cognitive function than those who were not using any such drugs, and that the death rate for the heavy users during the course of the study was 68 percent higher.
Hospital visits often turn into death traps, especially for the elderly
Thanks to rampant infections in our hospitals, patients who enter for one condition end up acquiring deadly bugs which often become fatal - and this is particularly true for the elderly.
The most common infection acquired in hospitals is pneumonia. The sixth leading cause of death in the US, pneumonia is the fourth leading cause of death among the elderly and hospitals appear to be helpless in preventing its spread. Hospitals likewise have been unable to prevent the often deadly medication-resistant staph superbug MRSA from spreading wildly in recent years.
As was reported last year in Natural News, an old bacterial nemesis named clostridium difficile (C difficle) is becoming more deadly and its incidence is increasing at alarming rates in hospitals across North America and Europe. Its primary cause is antibiotic drugs wiping out bacteria that compete with C difficile.
Another new infectious agent which has appeared in the United States is called CRKP (Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae). By early 2011 CRKP had already been identified in hospitals in 36 states. CRKP is resistant to antibiotics, and patients who acquire it are at a high risk of death, usually within 30 days. Death rates for CRKP have been reported to be between 30 and 44 percent.
Other hospital complications common among the elderly include delirium, which occurs in one-third of hospitalized patients over the age of 65 and in more than 70 percent of older patients in Intensive Care Units, bedsores and malnutrition.
By the time a person reaches 65 years of age in the US, they are taking an average of nine prescription drugs each day. Add in over the counter medications and the number of drugs taken daily increases to a dozen or more. Since over 95 percent of all approved medications have side effects, each new medication increases the likelihood of further health problems.
Sadly, chances are great that all those medications began being administered for one or two conditions which could have been treated naturally.
Tony Isaacs, is a natural health author, advocate and researcher who hosts The Best Years in Life website for those who wish to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. Mr. Isaacs is the author of books and articles about natural health, longevity and beating cancer including "Cancer's Natural Enemy" and is working on a major book project due to be published later this year.