Are Your Prescriptions Killing You?

This is the title of the latest book that I read, but Armon Neel and Bill Hogan. And don’t stop reading this just because you’re not on any medications. Chances are that you know someone who is (like your mother, father, grandparents, or someone else).


Original Source: here.

            Now you might be thinking “Igor, you’re a fitness expert. Why are you reading books on pharmacology?”

There are 2 reasons for this:

  1. I’m a geek. I read about 60-70 books per year. And I actually take notes in a separate Word document, so I can refer to it later. So far I have notes for 241 books.
  2. Some of the clients our trainers work with are on medications that can slow down their results, or seriously affect their workouts. I like to know what we can do about that, without directly giving them advice on their medications (which we are not allowed to do anyway).

In the rest of this article, I’ll tell you some of the most interesting notes that I extracted from this book (keep in mind, I had 7 pages of notes. Below is just a snippet).

I of course also have to say the mandatory disclaimer. None of this is medical advice. Don’t change anything with your medications based on what you read here. But if anything here piques your attention or curiosity, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Without further ado, here are a few interesting tidbits:

  • Drugs behave differently in people who are over 65, and yet research is rarely done in this population. When drug companies do research, it’s usually on younger people.
  • The kidneys and liver function decline by about 1% per year after age 30. So if you started taking a medication in your 20s, and it did what it was supposed to do, and you’re still taking that medication now in your 50s or 60s, it may come with many more side effects.
  • One of the most important tests to figure out if your kidneys are able to handle the drugs you are taking is called “creatinine clearance.”
  • The Beers criteria is a list (named after its founder, Mark Beers) of medications that are not that dangerous in younger people, but should very rarely be used in those over 65. This list includes amphetamines, antihistamines, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, estrogens and NSAIDs (anti-inflammatories basically).
  • Blood pressure medications (like atenolol/Tenormin, Diovan, Dyazide, metoprolol/Lopressor, amlodipine/Norvasc and others) are often prescribed inappropriately. There should be multiple measurements of your blood pressure before being prescribed a medication. One measurement is often the only reason for a prescription. Yet a healthy person can have a single high measurement for many reasons (including being angry over long waiting times, coffee consumption, chasing after a bus, chasing after your kids, etc.)
  • NSAIDs. These are anti-inflammatories, that include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. One of the most common side effects of these is gastrointestinal bleeding. In the US, there are 107,000 hospitalizations per year because of this, and 16,500 deaths. Risk of bleeding goes up with age, dosage, and duration of use.
  • NSAIDs are said to be phantom killers, because you could be bleeding internally and not know it. You can go to sleep feeling just fine, but bleed to death internally.
  • Taking an NSAID concurrently with anticoagulants (like Coumadin/warfarin) increases risk of bleeding by 12 times. That’s 1100%!!!
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are drugs used for heartburn. They include omeprazole/Prilosec, lansoprazole/Prevacid, exomeprazole/Nexium, pantoprazole/Protonix and others. One of their biggest side effects is weaker bones because they prevent the absorption of calcium.
  • PPIs also decrease the effectiveness of other drugs.
  • Statins are cholesterol lowering drugs, and include things like Crestor, Lipitor, Lescol, Zocor, and others. They don’t improve the mortality of people over 80, women, or men who have not had a heart attack. They have a very slight benefit for men who have had a previous heart attack or cardiovascular disease.
  • Statins can cause forgetfulness.
  • Bisphosphonates are drugs used for osteoporosis. They include Fosamax, Boniva and others. Sure, they decrease fracture risk. But only by 1.1%. Yet the side effects they cause (like bone pain, and muscle pain) may not be worth it.
  • Some drugs, or drug combinations can cause Alzheimer’s-like symptoms. People don’t attribute those symptoms to the drugs, but often, discontinuation of the drugs, or switching to different drugs can bring the memory back.


If you want to delve into this in greater detail, I encourage you to buy this book, Are Your Prescriptions Killing You? By Armon Neel and Bill Harris. Or if you’d like to manage your own, or your parents’ or grandparents’ drugs, find a consulting pharmacist, who is specifically trained in geriatric pharmacology, and speak to that person.

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