Polypharmacy and non-compliance in the hypertensive elderly patient.

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BACKGROUND Elderly patients are major consumers of prescription and nonprescription medications and the proper use of these agents can lead to more cost-effective strategies in reaching optimal health. The use of medications for the treatment of multiple co-morbid conditions in a single patient increases the risks of polypharmacy and non-compliance and raises the burden on the health care system and society. OBJECTIVES To analyse the extent and nature of total and anti hypertensive, polypharmacy the most prevalent groups of drugs, the compliance rate and the costs related to polypharmacy in the hypertensive elderly. METHODS A descriptive cross-sectional study was made of sixty-nine patients 65 years of age or older on follow-up for arterial hypertension at a central hospital in Lisbon. The study protocol consisted of a questionnaire performed by the physician. We calculated the monthly amount of individual prescription expense, after cost reduction from social insurance. RESULTS The patients used an average of 4.4 prescribed medications with a corresponding average of 6.4 pills per day. Drug use was greater in women than men. Hypertensive therapy involved a mean of 2 drugs. Antiplatelet drugs, coronary vasodilators, bezodiazepines, glucose regulators and hypolipidemic agents were the other major groups of drugs. Non-compliance was identified in only 14% of the patients. The average of individual prescription expenses was 5,076 Portuguese escudos (PTE) per month, of which 2,226 PTE was the average cost of antihypertensive agents. CONCLUSIONS With this study we were able to show the extent of poly-pharmacotherapy in a population of hypertensive elderly patients. We found a high rate of compliance, although the costs were frequently high.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)855-72
JournalRevista Portuguesa de Cardiologia
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000

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