An “epidemic” of inappropriate diuretic prescribing is hitting seniors, a top researcher says.

The drugs are widely overused to treat arterial hypertension, heart failure and renal disease, said Martin Wehling, M.D., in a recent issue of JAMDA. Often, the drugs’ side effects are not given enough consideration, he says.

Electrolyte disturbances such as hypokalemia and hyponatremia, in particular, can lead to cardiac arrhythmia or brain damage.

Diuretics rank among the five leading drug classes associated with hospitalizations for adverse reactions, according to Wehling.