Canadian elderly have most drug reactions

March 26, 2013 at 9:25 PM

OTTAWA, March 26 (UPI) -- One-in-200 Canadian seniors were hospitalized due to an adverse drug reaction in 2010-11, compared with 1-in-1,000 of all other Canadians, officials say.

A report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found 12.6 percent of blood thinners, often used to prevent heart attack and stroke, were the class of drugs most commonly associated with adverse drug reaction-related hospitalizations among seniors, followed by 12 percent of chemotherapy drugs and 7.4 percent of opioids, a class of pain killers.

Hospitalization varied based on the drug class -- such as bleeding from blood thinners, or low white blood cell count from chemotherapy drugs.

"While it is appropriate in many cases for people to be using these medications, it is important for seniors, their caregivers and health professionals to manage the associated risks," Michael Gaucher, director of pharmaceuticals and health workforce information services at CIHI, said in a statement.

"The factors most often associated with hospitalization for adverse drug reactions are the number of drugs, age and being hospitalized in the previous year."

Medication review and management of healthcare providers could help reduce the number of adverse drug reactions. Electronic health records, which integrate drug information by patient could help with medication reviews by providing a more complete picture of patients' medications, Gaucher said.

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