Prescription medication use in older Americans: a national report card on prescribing.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Due to their high prevalence of disease, older Americans receive more prescription medication than any other age group. We evaluated prescription medication use in patients age 50 or older; categorized and reported medication use by age group, drug class, and therapeutic class; and examined differences in prescribing patterns for older patients. METHODS: All prescription medications reported in the 1995 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, a nationally representative sample of ambulatory care visits in the United States for patients age 50 and older (n = 16,289), were evaluated in a cross-sectional analysis. We evaluated the number of prescription medications reported for each patient visit and ranked use of drug and therapeutic classes. RESULTS: Most patients seeing physicians (61%) had a prescription for at least one medication, ranging from a mean of 1.27 medications in patients ages 50-64 to 1.58 in patients over 85. Calcium channel blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors were prescribed more than beta blockers in all patients. Data also indicated a significant decrease in estrogen/progestin and antidepressant medication use in older patients. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate prescribing patterns inconsistent with national guidelines and decreased medication use, suggesting underprescription. Active intervention may be needed to improve the pharmacological treatment of older patients.
Rathore, SS; Mehta, SS; Boyko, WL; Schulman, KA
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