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Older women prescribed inappropriate drugs more often than men

Created date

August 10th, 2016

If you are a woman over age 65, your medicine cabinet is likely to be more crowded with potentially dangerous medicines than a man’s. 

Those were the findings of a group of researchers from the University of British Columbia. They analyzed health care datasets and found that women were 23% more likely than men to have an inappropriate drug prescribed by a health care professional. This statistic held up even when results were adjusted for all other risk factors. 

An inappropriate drug is one in which the risk of adverse events outweighs potential benefits. To determine which drugs were inappropriate, the authors of this study used a list of drugs identified by the American Geriatric Society as potentially dangerous for adults over the age of 65. Some of the prescription drugs on this list are hydroxyzine, procainamide, nifedipine, amitriptyline, and alprazolam. 

These drugs are risky because they can interact with other medications. They are also risky because many of them have side effects like dizziness, sedation, or confusion. Side effects such as these tend to be magnified in older adults because of age-related bodily changes. 

This study shows that women in particular need to be ready to ask questions whenever a new drug is prescribed. According to the National Institutes of Health, key questions include why the medicine is prescribed, what side effects to expect, will it conflict with your other medicines, and how to know if the medicine is working.