Study: Seniors who veered off medication experienced major health decline

Share this content:

Seniors who did not take all of their prescribed drugs because of the excessive costs were 76% more likely to have major health problems in the long run compared with those who heeded doctors' orders, according to a study published by the American Public Health Association.

Lead author Dr. Michele Heisler, a researcher from the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, and colleagues from the University of Michigan Medical School's Institute for Social Research surveyed 8,000 older adults in three-year increments between 1992 and 1999.  There were two groups --- those between the ages of 51 and 61 and seniors who were at least 70 at the beginning of the survey.

While there was no significant difference between medical records at the beginning, patients who did not follow the medication's course were 50% more likely to have a heart attack, stroke or chest-pain episode by the end than those who followed the regimen. Similarly, those who veered off course were 76% more likely to be affected by a major decline in total health, the study found.

However, the study found no significant differences between people who restricted or stayed on their prescribed drugs for the onset or worsening of diabetes or arthritis

The National Institute on Aging funded the study.