Polypharmacy is one of the biggest complications of healthcare right now! It’s quite likely that many of
the medications you are on originate from a side effect of another medication. There are many
contributing factors to polypharmacy in America and the strain on healthcare providers has played a
huge role. Provider to patient ratios have been maxed to capacity. Many providers simply do not have
time to evaluate every single medication that you are taking and it’s impossible to memorize every single
side effect, especially when you’re on several medications. I have worked alongside the very best
through my journey in healthcare. Many of these individuals stay up all night, while enduring a heavy
patient load, to ensure their patients are cared for. Mistakes do happen when the system is strained.

Society has also played a large role. It was not long ago that hospital reimbursement was based on
patient satisfaction. Patients demanded the “fix all” drug. You were not willing to make lifestyle changes
in order to improve your health. Providers had no choice but to start you on a STATIN and blood
pressure medications in order to prevent heart attacks and strokes, when in reality weight loss was the
best treatment plan. Once this process is started, you end up on multiple medications to treat side effects
EFFECTS. Because of this, the process ends with prescribing cascades. This is when multiple
medications are added to treat the side effects of other medications. Did you read that? These new
medications to treat side effects of other medications also come with side effects. When does this
process stop?

What are the risks of polypharmacy?
Adverse drug reactions that lead to more death and hospitalizations than the chronic diseases
we are trying to treat!

What can you do?
1. Know your medication list! Have this list with you at all times.
2. Know WHY you’re on these medications!
3. Know the possible side effects of the medications you’re on and the risks vs benefits of taking them.
4. Request a medication review and eliminate unnecessary medications.
5. Make those lifestyle changes and reduce your medication needs.
6. Limit over the counter medications. These also come with side effects and drug-to-drug interactions.
(Don’t believe me? Look up risks and side effects associated with Ibuprofen.)
7. Quit demanding the “FIX ALL” drug and ask what YOU can do to better your health.
8. Quit demanding antibiotics every time you get sick! Most often it’s viral and antibiotics are not needed!
(It’s estimated that 1 in 3 of antibiotics prescribed are unnecessary.)

Risk vs. benefit should be weighed with every medication you take. This article does not suggest that
you stop taking all medications; many medications are needed to prevent early death due to the lifestyles
we choose to live. However, you should consider the risks vs. benefits of adding medications to treat side
effects of other medications. Instead, I recommend working diligently on lifestyle changes that make it
possible to come of medications that are causing side-effects.

If your goal is life longevity and health, it is time to refocus your healthcare on disease prevention and
lifestyle changes that meet the needs of your body. Individualized and focused care that can improve your quality of life by giving you the tools to help yourself.