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Medication Overload!

Heritage Health pharmacist dials down patients’ prescriptions

By Marc Stewart, Heritage Health

Medication Overload!

Jo was in constant knee pain. She was told she needs a knee replacement, but to get one she would have to lose weight. Unfortunately, the medicine she was prescribed for her chronic medical conditions caused her to gain weight—putting her in a never-ending cycle.


Frustrated, the 76-year-old Silver Valley woman met with her Heritage Health provider to go over her medical history. He was shocked.


Jo was taking pills before breakfast, pills before lunch, pills before dinner and pills before bedtime.


“I was taking 13 different medicines,” says Jo. “He couldn’t believe I had been doing this for years and years. He said, ‘What the heck! I don’t want you on all of these medicines.’”


To put an end to her steady diet of pills, Jo met with Jolie Jantz, a clinical pharmacist with Heritage Health, to come up with a new prescription plan and to help her overcome a condition called polypharmacy. Polypharmacy is defined as the regular use of drugs to multiple chronic conditions.


“Jo was on a meal of medications,” says Jantz. “It is a serious issue with older adults because the risk of adverse effects or even life-threatening symptoms increases as the number of medications multiplies. Several studies have shown that polypharmacy is closely associated with falls, fractures, kidney impairment, frailty, cognitive dysfunction and hospitalization.”


Research shows that more than 50 percent of older adults have been prescribed multiple medications—five or more. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 83 percent of adults in their 60s and 70s reported using at least one prescription drug in the previous 30 days and about one-third used five or more. In addition, it’s believed that patients who take five to nine medications have a 50 percent chance of adverse drug interaction and that polypharmacy accounts for nearly 30 percent of hospital admissions and is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.


“We talked a lot about options,” says Jantz. “We talked about what we can stop, what we can do less of and what was necessary. It was very rewarding to be able to help her stop taking all of those pills.”


Gradually, Jo, who is a sixth-generation resident of the Silvery Valley, was able to dramatically reduce her daily medications.


“Half of them I was able to stop completely,” says Jo. “Some I had to wean myself off of, but I am not taking pain pills anymore. Instead, I am getting a cortisone shot, which is wonderful for me.”


Today Jo feels like the Energizer Bunny.


“I have to remind myself to slow down,” says Jo. “I am so thankful for Jolie. I feel great. I haven’t felt this good in years.”


Watch the rest of Jo’s story at MyHeritageHealth.org.

To schedule an appointment with Jolie, call 208.620.5250.



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