Foundation: Dangerous Medicines for Seniors

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Stiftung Warentest presents risky drugs for the elderly

Taking medication can quickly lead to unpleasant side effects, and an overdose of some active ingredients can even be fatal. Older people in particular should therefore be particularly careful because, according to the Stiftung Warentest, many medicines tend to cause health damage in old age.

10 to 15 percent of hospital admissions through medication As the Stiftung Warentest has found, many medications do not have a positive effect on older people, but instead damage health. In principle, side effects and overdose are possible with any medication, but some remedies pose a particularly high risk with increasing age. Correspondingly, about 10 to 15 percent of the hospitalizations of older people are caused by medicines, according to the Stiftung Warentest in the current September issue of the magazine "test".

Potentially dangerous preparations on the "Priscus list" since 2010 Since certain medicinal products are considered "potentially inadequate medication" in older patients, they have been included in the so-called "Priscus list" since 2010 (Latin: priscus = "old, time-honored." “) Collected. There are currently 83 drugs from 18 drug classes on this list, which according to the research association “priscus” were rated “potentially inadequate for older patients” by experts in a structured expert survey. These drugs are now presented in the current "test" magazine and, at the same time, alternatives are shown which, according to the assessment of the Stiftung Warentest, are "suitable".

“Ergotamine” migraine drug among the risky active ingredients According to the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the “Priscus list” among the 83 substances includes, for example, the active ingredients “Ergotamine” or descendants of ergotamine, which are used for migraine headaches and are often not tolerated by older people. Since, according to the BMBF, side effects such as "gastrointestinal problems [...] dizziness, rapid heartbeat and blood pressure problems" can occur, the active ingredient "triptan" is recommended as an alternative.

Multiple medication poses an additional risk But it is not only the active substances as such that can bring an increased risk for older people. What makes the situation even more problematic: Due to illness, many older people have to take several medications at the same time ("poly-medication"). A survey by Stiftung Warentest on showed that, among the over 65-year-olds, one in three people take more than five medications a day, every tenth respondent even eight or more preparations. Unfortunately, this multiple medication is often necessary, but can quickly become harmful due to possible interactions. For example, according to a brochure by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research on the topic of “medication in old age”, different medications can have the same side effects or one medication can slow down the effects of another. The foundation therefore appeals to general practitioners to regularly check the medication mix of older people and points out that pharmacists could also help by paying attention to interactions from the outset. (No)

Image: Andrea Damm /

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Video: The dangers of mixing drugs - Céline Valéry


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