You’ll find below the risks with some frequently prescribed drugs that you may not have been warned about. Your doctor is likely to tell you that all drugs come with some risk and in the case of these drugs the judgement is that the benefits outweigh the risk. However, this information will enable you to have an informed discussion about what is right for you.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) Prescribed to reduce stomach-acid production. ,
Vitamin and mineral loss: all vitamins and minerals, but especially magnesium and vitamin B12.
Symptoms of vitamin and mineral loss: magnesium -Cognitive decline and muscle spasms; B12 cognitive decline, irritable bowel, raised blood pressure, brittle nails and tiredness.
Recognised side effects: increased risk of pneumonia, osteoporosis and broken bones; and an increased chance of infection by superbug Clostridium dificile and kidney problems.
Additional information: PPIs are widely and unnecessarily prescribed to prevent gastric bleeding in hospital patents over 700 people have to be treated for one person to beneiit.
Bisphosphonates Prescribed to treat osteoporosis and prevent bone loss.
Mineral loss: iron.
Recognised side effects: A range of side effects, including heartburn. PPls (see above) are prescribed to deal with the heartburn, but they may seriously lower the drug’s effectiveness.
Additional information: 667 people need to be treated for one person to benefit. Although bisphosphonates are widely prescribed to people over 50, the trials done on these drugs have involved only a very small subset of people: younger women with osteoporosis.
NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin) widely used for pain and to lower inflammation.
Vitamin and mineral loss: vitamin C, folic acid and iron.
Symptoms of vitamin and mineral loss: depression, diarrhoea and mouth sores.
Recognised side effects: a raised risk of death from heart disease in patients with cardiovascular disease.29 Aspirin seriously aggravates stomach and kidney problems in elderly patients.30 PPIs are prescribed to deal with the side effects ).
Benzodiazepines Prescribed for insomnia and anxiety.
Mineral and vitamin reduction: folate, vitamins B6, C and D. Recognised side effects: poor balance after: waking and a raised risk of falls and cognitive impairment.
Anticholinergic drugs Included in many types of drugs, both over-thecounter and prescription, including: painkillers, sleeping. pills, betablockers, antidepressants, and medication for allergies, leaky bladder and gastrointestinal cramps. These drugs block the nervous-system chemical acetylcholine.
Recognised side effects: increased risk of death when two or more taken together. The more you take the worse your cognitive functioning.32 Also dry mouth, dizziness and blurred vision.
Additional information: Alzheimer’s patients are prescribed drugs such as Aricept to boost their acetylcholine levels. It is very likely that many dementia patients will also be taking anticholinergic drugs at the same time.