r people with very high blood pressure or blood sugar, "the answer is almost always 'yes,' you should treat it," Steinman said. "But if you have only mildly elevated blood pressure or blood sugar, the benefits of treating it versus the harms start to shift. Do these drugs really provide enough benefit that it's worth taking them?"
Physicians and patients need to consider a person's age, overall health, other medications they take (keep a list including dosages) and patient preference, such as how easy they find it to keep track of blood sugar and dosages, he said.
With anticlotting or blood-thinning agents, stopping them is probably not an option, Steinman said. So patients need to be attuned to any side effects they experience, even if they seem minor. Catching side effects early can prevent more serious problems later on, and doctors may be able to change the medication or lower the dosage, he said.
The American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health and Aging has more on preventing adverse drug reactions.
SOURCES: Daniel Budnitz, M.D., M.P.H., director, medication safety program, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Michael Steinman, M.D., associate professor, medicine, division of geriatrics,
University of California, San Francisco, and San Francisco VA Medical Center; Nov. 24, 2011, New England Journal of Medicine
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