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MAGAZINE / Mar-Apr 2008 / Cholesterol Treatment in the Elderly

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Cholesterol Treatment in the Elderly

By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer
(Page 3 of 3)

The second prong in the education arena is learning about the medication that has been prescribed. A patientís doctor should always be the first person asked about the medication. It is important to learn why it is prescribed, possible side effects, and if follow-up tests are needed to determine its effectiveness. Some cholesterol medications, for example, may need liver function tests to make sure that liver damage does not occur as a side effect of treatment.

Another good source of information about a specific medication is the pharmacist who fills the prescription. Pharmacists are usually more than happy to provide information about side effects, the length of time before a medication may begin to work, and medications (over-the-counter or prescribed) that are contraindicated while using particular prescriptions. Experts recommend that patients have all of their prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. While some co-pays may be cheaper at other pharmacies, the health benefits may outweigh the cost savings. If the patient consolidates all prescriptions at the same pharmacy, the pharmacist can quickly catch the problem of over-prescribing or adverse affects between drugs. Some of these drug-to-drug adverse effects can be fatal or extremely dangerous if not caught immediately.

Finally, if side effects are a concern, discuss those issues up-front with the doctor. Often patients have heard horror stories from others, whether well-intentioned or not, that may color their perception of how a medication may work. It is important to realize that not everyone experiences the same reaction to a medication, and side effects may not occur in everyone. Learning the most common side effects and what to expect before starting a medication at home is extremely helpful. Some side effects are extremely dangerous and should be reported immediately to the doctor. Others are more bothersome than dangerous and may go away after taking the medication over time.

Since CHD is the leading cause of death among the elderly, it is especially important to adhere to treatment plans. These treatment plans may include cholesterol-lowering medications. If patients are uncomfortable with side effects or are unwilling to take them as prescribed, caregivers can help overcome these issues primarily through communication

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