The many medications prescribed to the elderly can add up in their effects and side effects. Treatment is often based on medical guidelines alone – and people are lost sight of, experts warn. Doctors must limit themselves to what is really good for the patient. Because older people not only have a weak heart, but often also have basic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, which also need to be treated.
Kidneys are less able to process drugs as we age
Many diagnoses come together – but drugs should be limited to really relevant diseases. Less is often more, because the kidneys usually don’t work as well in old age, which is why the drug is less well processed.
If, for example, a fall occurs due to dizziness, signs of aging such as general weakness and numbness in the head are often suspected. Doctors should not be guided by this, but look very closely and check blood values - if these are clearly outside the norm, drug interactions and side effects may be causing the symptoms. Individual solutions are then necessary.
Sodium deficiency: controlling blood salts
For example, the concentration of sodium in the blood should fluctuate only slightly, otherwise the transmission of nerve impulses is disturbed. The rhythm of the heart, the distribution of water in the body, the work of the muscles – all this only works if the sodium level is reasonably constant. However, medications can upset the balance. Older people often take several: for example, heart medication and water pills, as well as blood pressure medication, an antidepressant for insomnia, and diabetes medication. In combination, these drugs can cause sodium deficiency. Filtering out the decisive and really important drugs is then the art of the attending physicians.
Treat the underlying condition and reduce medications
If there is an underlying disease such as atrial fibrillation and strong medications such as beta-blockers, cardiac arrhythmia tablets, water tablets and other medications are needed for further diagnosis , all of which can increase side effects and cause kidney problems. In this case, it is really important to control the heart arrhythmia and find a drug that allows the heart to beat more calmly and evenly. This in turn regulates blood flow – and so, for example, medications for fluid retention can be reduced.