At MedMinder, we recognize the importance of medications in managing various health conditions and achieving optimal patient outcomes. For some patients, treating a condition or comorbid conditions requires multiple medication management, or polypharmacy. Among polypharmacy patients, some medications are more common than others. Let’s dive in to the top five most common drugs prescribed to polypharmacy patients.
Statins are a class of drug prescribed to manage high cholesterol levels. The drug works by reducing cholesterol production in the liver, ultimately lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. Statins have been proven to be highly effective in reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Commonly Known Statins: Atorvastatin, Simvastatin, Rosuvastatin, Fluvastatin, Livalo
Interactions To Know: Antibiotics like clarithromycin or erythromycin, antifungal medications like ketoconazole and itraconazole, grapefruit or grapefruit juice.
Common Side Effects: muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness/fatigue (statin-induced myopathy), headache, upset stomach or nausea.
Antihypertensive medications are commonly prescribed to patients with high blood pressure or hypertension as well as to support the proper function of the heart. These medications can work in a multitude of different ways. One is to help to relax and widen blood vessels, reducing blood pressure levels, protecting kidney function, and lowering the risk of cardiovascular complications. Different classes of antihypertensives such as ACE inhibitors, alpha agonists, ARBs, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers and diuretics (aka water pills) function differently in the body and may be prescribed one at a time or in combination based on individual patient needs.
Commonly Known Antihypertensives: Lisinopril, Losartan, Diltiazem, Verapamil, Nifedipine, Atenolol, Hydrochlorothiazide, Furosemide, Clonidine, Aliskiren
Interactions To Know: NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like Ibuprofen, and some over-the-counter cold and flu medications containing Pseudoephedrine.
Common Side Effects: Fatigue, dizziness, dry cough (common with ACE inhibitors), swelling in the extremities.
For individuals living with diabetes, antidiabetic medications are crucial in controlling blood sugar levels and preventing long-term complications. This is one of the largest areas of new drug development. These medications work to increase insulin production, improve insulin sensitivity, or reduce glucose production in the liver. Various antidiabetic drugs, like Metformin, sulfonylureas, Ozempic, and insulin, may be prescribed based on the type and severity of diabetes. Regular blood sugar monitoring, proper diet, and regular exercise complement the effectiveness of these medications in managing diabetes.
Commonly Known Antidiabetics: Metformin, insulin, sulfonylureas, Januvia, Trulicity, Rybelsus
Interactions To Know: Antibiotics such as fluroquinolones, certain high blood pressure medications, and other diabetic medications.
Common Side Effects: Nausea, hypoglycemia, weight gain
Depression and other mental health conditions can significantly impact a person’s well-being. Antidepressants are prescribed to help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders, and other related conditions. These medications work by balancing neurotransmitters in the brain, improving mood and promoting emotional stability.
Commonly Known Antidepressants: Fluoxetine, Sertraline, Escitalopram, Duloxetine, Nortriptyline, Trazodone, Bupropion, Selegiline, Vilazodone
Interactions To Know: Any medication that affects serotonin levels, including other SSRIs and SNRIs, SARIs, etc., If taking MAOIs, foods containing tyramine, such as aged cheeses, fermented foods, red wine, and cured meats.
Common Side Effects: Nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, fatigue/drowsiness, changes in sleep patterns, sexual dysfunction
Analgesics, also known as pain relievers, are commonly prescribed to manage pain associated with various health conditions, injuries, or surgeries, typically at a higher dose than is available over the counter. Analgesics work by targeting pain pathways in the body to alleviate pain without addressing the underlying cause. It is common and safe to use in an acute injury. Long term use needs to be assessed carefully between a patient and their prescriber.
Commonly Known Analgesics: Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Codeine, Morphine, Hydrocodone, Lidocaine, Capsaicin
Interactions To Know: Anticoagulants and antihypertensives, combining multiple analgesics.
Common Side Effects: Upset stomach, constipation, ulcers, increased risk of bleeding, liver damage with excessive use. Potential for physical and mental dependency with controlled substance use.
Medications often work in harmony for patients managing multiple conditions or complex health needs, but it’s important to recognize that when multiple medications are used together, there is an increased risk of drug interactions and potential side effects. That’s why open communication and collaboration between patients, healthcare providers, and pharmacists are essential. Having a primary pharmacy manage all your medications coming from multiple prescribers is a key strategy to ensuring safe and effective medication regimens.
MedMinder is committed to providing comprehensive medication management support, with comprehensive medication reviews and promoting strict adherence through our Smart Pill Dispenser with medication reminders. Together, we can navigate the complexities of polypharmacy and ensure that you or your loved one are set up for success in improving health and well-being.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.