In this health video you will learn how we are overmedicating the elderly.
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Raena Morgan: Dr. Kohls, you've indicated that the elderly are easy targets for over-medication. Could you explain that, please? Dr. Gary Kohls: Yeah. You know, I think the average Medicare-age patients, I've read somewhere, takes six different drugs or something like that. Most drugs affect the brain. Raena Morgan: Okay. Dr. Gary Kohls: But they're taking stuff -- Lipitor, and they are coumadin, and they're taking antidepressants and they're taking something for their bowels and tummy defect and blood pressure. Raena Morgan: Why are they taking antidepressants? Is aging depressing? Dr. Gary Kohls: Well, it can be. So many of your friends are dying and there are lots of losses and your connections with your kids and grandkids. Raena Morgan: Okay, so there are some depressing. Dr. Gary Kohls: So, our culture is separating families and that's kind of sad for a lot of people. Sometimes if, you know, common sequences, go to your doctor for your annual exam and you might be nervous, blood pressure is up. Raena Morgan: Okay, Dr. Gary Kohls: One elevated blood pressure and now you have a label of hypertension. Whereas what you should do is say, 'well, let's check about 20 different blood pressures at different times of the day and at home and etcetera before we make a decision. But it's easy just with one elevated reading, which might be just a temporary thing because you're nervous in the doctor's office and now you're on a drug. If you get a drug like a beta blocker, that can cause depression. Inderal and Toprol cause depression. It's a blocker of dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine and norepinephrine are natural antidepressants and now you're on a drug that lowers it because it's counteracting epinephrine. It blocks epinephrine, and epinephrine raises pulse and blood pressure, so this is a drug that will lower that and it does lower your blood pressure. But because dopamine and norepinephrine are antidepressants, now you're blocking that. So, depression is a very common side effect of a drug for blood pressure. Well, so now the person goes in, blood pressure is fine, but now he's complaining of depression. Well, two minutes, here's a prescription for Prozac. So they take the Prozac and maybe that helps a little bit for awhile, but it probably poops out. But it can cause mania or insomnia. Then, they go back and say, "I'm not sleeping very well." Well, here's a prescription for Trazodone, and maybe better take some Valium too. So, you can see how counteracting the side effects of the last drug is another way to add another drug. The sad, criminal part, in my opinion, is that there is no scientific studies in the animal labs that has ever been tested on two drugs, much less three or four. We don't know what the drug-drug interactions are of these at the molecular level of the brain. So, there's no safety studies, short term or long term, about any combination of two drugs. So, these are massive experiments on humans and we're not even monitoring it. So, people are on six drugs, we have no idea how safe that is, but what's going on in the heart -- Raena Morgan: And that's common, six drugs? Dr. Gary Kohls: Yeah, common. They're probably -- so, nursing home patients, we talked about the elderly. They don't have any control over what -- they don't have the wherewithal to say, "No, I'm not taking that." They're probably zoned out already, Raena Morgan: Oh, yes. Dr. Gary Kohls: They just swallow what the nurse gives them; the obedience thing. We respect authority, or elderly people who are more likely to be raised in punitive households, lots of punishment oftentimes. They've learned to obey their elders, you know, or else. You don't want to get punished, so they were obedient. And they tend to accept what the experts say. "My doctor must know what he's saying and what he's doing." Raena Morgan: Well, they think they're being taken care of, don't they? Dr. Gary Kohls: Yeah. They regard that as treatment. They need treatment for my sa