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A study on polypharmacy among elderly medicine in-patients of a tertiary care teaching hospital of North India

Rohini Gupta, Apoorva Malhotra, Pavan Malhotra.


Background: In the modern era, with the increase in the lifespan of individuals with increasing access to health-care facilities, the population of elderly is also increasing with an equal pace. However, on the other hand, with the increasing population of the elderly another important issue of polypharmacy has also emerged. Elderly people usually have more disease conditions for which more of medications are prescribed in older individuals as compared to younger population. Hence, optimizing drug therapy in this aging population is a challenging task for physician. Polypharmacy can also lead to increase in drug interactions, adverse drug reactions, and medication errors.

Aims and Objectives: This study aims to study the polypharmacy among elderly medicine in-patients of a tertiary care teaching hospital in north India.

Materials and Methods: It was an observational, cross-sectional, prospective study. The study was conducted in patients admitted in general medicine wards at Acharya Shri Chander College of Medical Sciences and Hospital, Sidhra, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir. The study involved 64 elderly patients (above 65 years of age) of either sex for 3 months from February to March 2017. Data were collected through review of case files of all elderly patients admitted in medicine department. The information recorded included the demographic details of the patients, diagnosis, comorbid illnesses, details about medications being, the total number of drugs being used, and the factors associated with polypharmacy.

Results: A total of 64 geriatrics were included in the study. Of 64, 29 were male and 35 were female. 32.8% of them were in the age group between 65 and 70 years. Polypharmacy was found (>5 medications/day) in 34 (53.13%) of geriatrics. Polypharmacy was found in males with 5.86 medications/day. In females, average medications/day was 4.16. Among associated clinical conditions, hypertension was found in 57.8% of study participants. Gastritis was found in 42.2% of patients. Usage of cardiovascular drugs was seen in 85.9% of study participants followed by gastrointestinal tract (GIT) drugs were used in 73.4% of individuals.

Conclusion: Polypharmacy was found in 57.8% of individuals and highest in the age group between 76 and 80 years. Therefore, to counteract the problems associated with polypharmacy, regular follow-ups and proper monitoring of drug regimens of older individuals are the need of the hour.

Key words: Polypharmacy; Geriatrics; Elderly

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