‘Deprescribing’ Can Reduce Harm of Medications in Elderly

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Pills” by Victor is licensed under CC BY 2.0Khalid Ali, MBBS, FRCP, MD

Senior lecturer in Geriatrics
Brighton and Sussex Medical School, UK 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Older people are more like to have more than one chronic condition (multi-morbidity), and as such as are more likely to be prescribed several medications (poly pharmacy) to treat those conditions. At the point of hospital discharge, older people are given different / new medications in addition to their old ones, and this puts them at higher risk of harm related to medicines. Our study led by  Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) and King’s College London involved five hospitals and 1,280 patients (average age 82 years) in South England. Senior pharmacists interviewed patients and carers, reviewed GP records and analysed hospital readmission to determine medication-related harm.

The study found that more than one in three patients (37%) experienced harm from their medicines within two months of hospital discharge, and that this was potentially preventable in half of the cases. Medication-related harm was most commonly found to occur from the toxicity of the medicine itself and in a quarter of cases from poor adherence.  The medicines found to pose the highest risk were opiates, antibiotics and benzodiazepines. Patients suffered a range of side effects including serious kidney injury, psychological disturbance, irregular heart rhythms, confusion, dizziness, falls, diarrhoea, constipation and bleeding.

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Rate of End-of-Life Medicare Spending Falls

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

William B Weeks, MD, PhD, MBA The Dartmouth Institute

Dr. Weeks

William B Weeks, MD, PhD, MBA
The Dartmouth Institute

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The background for the study is that a common narrative is that end-of-life healthcare costs are driving overall healthcare cost growth.  Growth in end-of-life care has been shown, in research studies through the mid 2000’s, to be attributable to increasing intensity of care at the end-of-life (i.e., more hospitalizations and more use of ICUs).

The main findings of our study are that indeed there have been substantial increases in per-capita end-of-life care costs within the Medicare fee-for-service population between 2004-2009, but those per-capita costs dropped pretty substantially between 2009-2014.  Further, the drop in per-capita costs attributable to Medicare patients who died (and were, therefore, at the end-of-life) accounts for much of the mitigation in cost growth that has been found since 2009 in the overall Medicare fee-for-service population.

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How To Prevent the Elderly From Falling?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Alex Krist

Dr. Krist

Dr. Alex Krist, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Krist is is a professor of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University and active clinician and teacher at the Fairfax Family Practice residency.

What is the background for these recommendation statements? What are the main findings?

Response: Falls are the leading cause of injuries in adults age 65 and older and can lead to serious disability and even death. Bone fractures—which may result from a fall—can also cause serious disability and death in older adults.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force looked into the most recent evidence on the best ways to prevent falls and fractures in older adults. We found that clinicians should recommend exercise or physical therapy to help prevent falls by older adults who live at home and are at higher risk for falling.

Additionally, we concluded that taking a low dose of vitamin D and calcium does not help prevent fractures due to osteoporosis, but we don’t know if taking a higher dose is effective or not, so we are calling for more research.

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Screening Criteria Can Miss Over Half of Adults with Prediabetes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Diabetes Mellitus” by Steve Davis is licensed under CC BY 2.0Matthew James O’Brien MD

Assistant Professor, Medicine
General Medicine Division
Assistant Professor, Preventive Medicine
Northwestern University 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The USPSTF is an expert group that makes recommendations for screening and other preventive services. In December 2015, they recommend that providers screen for diabetes in patients who are 40-70 years old and also overweight/obese. The same recommendation stated that clinicians “should consider screening earlier” in patients who have any of the following risk factors: non-white race/ethnicity, family history of diabetes, or personal history of gestational diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome. Using nationally representative data, we studied the performance of the “limited” criteria based on age and weight alone vs. the “expanded criteria” mentioned above.

The main findings were that following the “limited” screening criteria of age and weight would result in missing over 50% of adults with prediabetes and diabetes. In other words, if providers followed the “limited” criteria, over 50% of adults with prediabetes and diabetes would not get screened. The “expanded” criteria exhibited much better performance, resulting in 76.8% of adults with prediabetes and diabetes who would be screened.  Continue reading

For Older Men, Dairy Food Intake Linked To Better Bone Health

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“bought a passive-aggressive amount of milk” by Paul Downey is licensed under CC BY 2.0Shivani Sahni, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Director, Nutrition Program
Associate Scientist, Musculoskeletal Research
Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife,
Boston  MA  02131-1097

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Previous studies have shown that higher milk intake is associated with higher bone mineral density. In one of our previous studies, we reported that higher dairy food intake was protective against bone loss especially among older adults who used vitamin D supplements. Older adults are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency because recommended intakes are difficult to achieve without fortified foods (such as dairy) or supplements. Vitamin D stimulates calcium absorption, which is beneficial for building bones. However, it is unclear if the effect of vitamin D on calcium absorption is substantial enough to translate into beneficial effects on bone.

Therefore, the current study determined the association of dairy food intake with bone health. We further examined whether these associations would be modified by vitamin D status.

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Falls in Older Adults Cost US Over $50 Billion Dollars Annually

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Curtis Florence, PhD Division of Analysis, Research and Practice Integration  CDC’s Injury Center

Dr. Florence

Curtis Florence, PhD
Division of Analysis, Research and Practice Integration
CDC’s Injury Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The estimates in this study provide a more robust indicator of the economic impact falls have on the U.S. economy.  Previous studies focused on Medicare spending. This study includes Medicare, Medicaid and out-of-pocket spending.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

Response: Our study found that older adult (65 years and over) falls impose a large economic burden on the U.S. healthcare system. In 2015, with a total medical cost $50 billion for non-fatal and fatal falls.  About three-quarters of the total cost was paid by government-funded programs.  Medicare paid nearly $29 billion for non-fatal falls, Medicaid $8.7 billion, and $12 billion was paid for by Private/Out-of-pocket expenses.  For fatal falls, $754 million was spent in 2015.

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Low Sodium Levels Linked To Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Kristen L. Nowak PhD Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Aurora, CO 80045

Dr. Nowak

Dr. Kristen L. Nowak PhD
Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Aurora, CO 80045

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: Subtle impairments in cognition are common with aging, even in the absence of clinically apparent dementia. Mild hyponatremia is a common finding in older adults; however, the association of lower serum sodium with cognition in older adults is currently uncertain.

We hypothesized that lower normal serum sodium would be associated with prevalent cognitive impairment and the risk of cognitive decline over time in asymptomatic, community-dwelling older men.

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Majority of Older Adults With Heart Failure Have Hearing Loss

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Handicapped Hearing Impaired” by Mark Morgan is licensed under CC BY 2.0Madeline Sterling M.D., M.P.H.

Fellow, Department of Medicine
Weill Cornell Medical College – New York Presbyterian Hospital

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Heart Failure currently affects 5.8 million people in the United States and is becoming increasingly common as the population ages. Because it has no cure and tends to get progressively worse, physicians recommend that patients control their symptoms by taking multiple medications, maintain a diet low in salt, monitor their weight and blood pressure, and watch for changes in their symptoms.

At the most basic level, in order to understand and follow these instructions, heart failure patients must be able to hear them.  Hearing loss, however, had not been studied in heart failure.  There are a lot of chronic diseases in which hearing loss is more common than in the general population, including coronary heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. And many adults with heart failure also have these conditions. So, we thought it would be important to understand if hearing loss was prevalent among adults with heart failure, especially since so much of heart failure management revolves around effective communication between patients and their healthcare providers. Continue reading

Personality Changes Can Presage Cognitive Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Richard J. Caselli MD Department of Neurology Mayo Clinic Arizona Scottsdale, AZ 

Dr. Caselli

Richard J. Caselli MD
Department of Neurology
Mayo Clinic Arizona
Scottsdale, AZ  

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Personality changes are common in patients with a variety of dementing illnesses, and underlie the behavioral disturbances that complicate the course of dementia patients.  We have a been conducting a large longitudinal study of cognitive aging in individuals at genetically defined risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) based on their APOE genotype, and have been administering a large battery of neuropsychological tests as well as the gold standard personality questionnaire (the NEO-PI-R) in order to determine whether personality changes during the transition from normal cognition/preclinical AD to mild cognitive impairment.   Continue reading

Seniors Entering Old Age Will Increasingly Have Multiple Complicated Health Conditions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Carol Jagger AXA Professor of Epidemiology of Ageing and Deputy Director of the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing (NUIA) Institute of Health & Society Campus for Ageing and Vitality Newcastle

Prof. Jagger

Prof. Carol Jagger
AXA Professor of Epidemiology of Ageing and
Deputy Director of the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing (NUIA)
Institute of Health & Society
Campus for Ageing and Vitality
Newcastle 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: As part of a larger study (MODEM – modelling outcome and cost impacts of interventions for dementia) we have developed a microsimulation model called PACSim which forecasts the number of older people aged 65 years and over along with their health and lifestyle factors as they age over the next 20 years. Crucially these are the first projections that include the health and lifestyle profiles of younger people as they age into to older population, rather than just assuming they have the same health profiles as existing young-old.

Other studies have already reported that the proportion of older people with multimorbidity (two or more concurrent diseases) has increased. Our study shows that not only will this continue but that the largest increase over the next 20 years will be for complex multimorbidity (four or more diseases). Much of the gain in life expectancy over the next 20 year for a 65 year old will be years spent with complex multimorbidity. And more importantly the future cohorts of young-old entering the older population will have successively more multimorbidity. Continue reading

Vitamin D and Calcium Supplements Did Not Lower Fracture Risk In Community-Dwelling Adults

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“ZMA och D-vitamin. Intages med dubbelsidig C-brus. #placebomannen” by Robin Danehav is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr Jia-Guo Zhao

Tianjin Hospital
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Tianjin, China

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The increased social and economic burdens for osteoporotic-related fractures worldwide make its prevention a major public health goal.

Calcium and vitamin D supplements have long been considered a basic intervention for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. Survey analysis showed that 30–50% of older people take calcium or vitamin D supplements in some developed countries. Many previously published meta-analyses, from the high-ranking medical journals, concluded that calcium and vitamin D supplements reduce the incidence of fracture in older adults. And many guidelines regarding osteoporosis recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements for older people. The final aim for these supplements is to prevent the incidence of osteoporotic-related fracture in osteoporosis management.

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Older, Frail and Physically Inactive Adults At Risk of Multivitamin Deficiency

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“vitamins” by Colin Mutchler is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Priv.-Doz. Dr. Barbara Thorand 
Helmholtz Zentrum München
German Research Center for Environmental Health
Institute of Epidemiology II
Neuherberg, Germany 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Micronutrients, which include vitamins, minerals (e.g. calcium) and trace elements (e.g. iron), are essential nutrients that are required in minute amounts by the organism for proper growth and good health. Results from the last German National Nutrition Survey (NVS II)* uncovered a high prevalence of insufficient dietary intake of micronutrients in older adults aged 65 years and over in Germany. By means of blood analyses, our study has confirmed these critical results. This is a highly relevant issue, particularly in light of our growing aging population and the high societal relevance of successful healthy aging.

*Max Rubner-Institut: Nationale Verzehrsstudie II, Ergebnisbericht Teil 2 (2008). Die Bundesweite Befragung zur Ernährung von Jugendlichen und Erwachsenen.

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Personalized Medicine Tool Helps Direct Cardiac Care in Elderly Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD Principal Substudy Investigator, PRESET Registry Subgroup Analysis, Elderly Patients Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research David Geffen School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Ladapo

Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD
Principal Substudy Investigator, PRESET Registry
Subgroup Analysis, Elderly Patients
Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research
David Geffen School of Medicine
University of California, Los Angeles

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? 

Response: The mapping of the Human Genome 14 years ago ushered in a new era of precision medicine. Many people are familiar with advances in oncology using precision medicine, but recently, new developments in precision medicine in cardiology have allowed us to develop a tool to differentiate patients likely to have obstructive coronary artery (CAD) from those who have non-cardiac causes of their symptoms.

Diagnosing CAD in the elderly is challenging. Aging individuals often present with atypical symptoms of CAD which can complicate the evaluation process. The typical diagnostic pathway for possible CAD often starts with less invasive testing and progresses to invasive testing, especially in older patients. Invasive procedures pose greater risk in the elderly population than they do in younger patients because of the higher risk of side effects, including bleeding, vascular complications and kidney injury.

Elderly adults evaluated for CAD have a higher pretest probability of CAD and are also at higher risk of experiencing procedure-related complications during their evaluation.[i],[ii] It is also important to note that elderly patients are often underrepresented in clinical trials and other types of comparative effectiveness research.[iii],[iv] For example, the 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease Risk Algorithm is only formally approved to be used in individuals up to the age of 75, despite the fact that individuals exceeding this threshold in age experience higher rates of adverse cardiovascular events.[v]

All of this means that the elderly population may have the most to gain from timely and accurate determination of their currently likelihood of obstructive CAD.
This precision medicine tool, the age, sex and gene expression score (ASGES), and its clinical utility in the elderly population is the focus of this study. It was based on patient data from the PRESET Registry, a prospective, multicenter, observational study enrolling stable, symptomatic outpatients from 21 U.S. primary care practices from August 2012 to August 2014.

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Hearing Loss Associated With Higher Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Hear” by Jaya Ramchandani is licensed under CC BY 2.0David G. Loughrey, BA(Hons)

NEIL (Neuro Enhancement for Independent Lives) Programme
Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, School of Medicine
Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Age-related hearing loss, a common chronic condition among older adults, has emerged in the literature as a potential modifiable risk factor for dementia. This is of interest as current pharmacological therapies for dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease only offer symptom-modifying effects. Treatment of risk factors such as hearing loss may help delay the onset of dementia and may provide an alternate therapeutic strategy. However, there is variance in the research on hearing loss and cognition with some studies reporting a small or non-significant association. In this meta-analysis, we investigated this association and we only included observational studies that used standard assessments of cognitive function and pure-tone audiometry (the clinical standard).

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Most Older Drivers Do Not Take Advantage of Car Adaptations Which Make Driving Safer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
aaaTara Kelley-Baker PhD

Data and Information Group Leader
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Background on LongROAD

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAAFTS) launched the Senior Driver Initiative in 2012 in an effort to better understand and meet the safe mobility needs of older adult drivers. A multidisciplinary research team from six institutions was formed to design and implement the Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) study.

The aims of the study are to better understand:

  • 1) major protective and risk factors of safe driving;
  • 2) effects of medical conditions and medications on driving behavior and safety;
  • 3) mechanisms through which older adults self-regulate their driving behaviors to cope with functional declines;
  • 4) the extent, use, and effects of new vehicle technology and aftermarket vehicle adaptations among older drivers; and
  • 5) determinants and health consequences of driving cessation during the process of aging.

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