Drug/Disease Interactions in the Elderly

Drug interactins in elderlyPharmacotherapy is an essential component of medical treatment for older patients, but certain medications are also responsible for many adverse events in this group. In fact, studies link the following with adverse prescription drug reactions:

  • Hospitalization
  • Increased length of hospital stay
  • Increased duration of illness
  • Nursing home placement
  • Falls and fractures

All of these are associated with physical, functional and social decline in the elderly.

Adverse drug events have been linked to preventable problems in elderly patients, such as depression, constipation, falls and mobility issues, confusion and hip fractures. Reducing prescriptions of high-risk drugs in the elderly is an opportunity to reduce the costs associated with the harm from medications (e.g., hospitalizations from drug toxicity) and encourages clinicians to consider safer, alternative medications.

To improve patient safety, quality of life and health outcomes, please see the chart below to identify patients with certain health conditions who may be susceptible to drug interactions. This information can help optimize patient care and your efforts to provide high-quality treatment to your patients. Evaluate your patients’ drug treatment regimens to determine if a safer, alternative medication would be right for them.


Drug Classes to Avoid

History of Falls

  • Anticonvulsants
  • SSRIs
  • Antiemetics
  • Non-benzodiazepine hypnotics
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Sleep agents


  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Anticholinergic agents
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antiemetics
  • Benzodiazepines
  • H2 receptor antagonists
  • Non-benzodiazepine hypnotics

Chronic Kidney Disease

  • Non-aspirin NSAIDs
  • Cox-2 selective NSAIDs

Drug-disease interactions included in this notification are based on the Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults and Potentially Harmful Drug-Disease Interactions in the Elderly (DDE) HEDIS® measure.

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