Be an informed patient: Statin among top-prescribed drugs

In 2014, the No. 1 most prescribed drug in America was branded rosuvastatin, or Crestor. IMS Health conducted a survey of the most commonly prescribed branded drugs, and this cholesterol-lowering pill came out on top with over 22 million prescriptions. FDA-approved in 2003, Crestor has been marketed as the most potent statin. Statin drugs stop an enzyme from making cholesterol in the body, sending LDL levels downward and making cardiologists and internists happy. But it’s not enough to just change a blood test result.

Be proactive about overuse and misuse of antibiotics in nursing homes

Approximately 4.1 million Americans are admitted to or reside in nursing homes and long-term care facilities each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Although there are many health challenges these residents face, one of them is risk for infections, due to their age and disability. Unfortunately, the overuse and sometimes inappropriate use of antibiotics to treat suspected infections has led to antibiotic resistance, making the drugs less effective and complicating treatment.

Drug price super spike? Be proactive about toxoplasmosis to avoid it

By now, you’ve likely heard about the pharmaceutical company that raised the price of the drug Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill, sparking widespread outrage and a media firestorm. In response, the CEO has gone on record to say the pill price will indeed be lowered, but just how much is still yet to be seen. Drug companies understand supply and demand, but as a consumer, you’re the one left with the bill. So let’s look at some ways you can be proactive.

Statin controversy: Lowering cholesterol at the expense of antioxidants?

Statins are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in America, because heart disease and stroke are some of the most commonly diagnosed diseases. Although they have saved many lives, controversy about their use still exists. Earlier this year, an abstract from a pharmacology journal (of a clinical hypothesis, not a research study) created some buzz among patients active on disease message boards. The authors of the piece think that because statins reduce levels of the potent antioxidant glutathione, the resulting lack of antioxidants could trigger bad outcomes like heart disease.

Be proactive to prevent opioid addiction

Addiction to opioids such as morphine, heroin and prescription painkillers is a growing global problem. Generally, opioids have an important role in the treatment of certain types of pain, but they have inherent risks and side effects, including being highly addictive. Even infrequent use can lead to dependence.

WAIT! Read this before you stop your meds

We've all cheated a bit on a long antibiotic course — stopped taking the medication a few days early. But there are instances when stopping your medication suddenly can do a lot of harm. Think about these scenarios.

Campus stimulant abuse: Paying for perfect grades with pills

Parents are expressing growing shock over the frequency of drug use on American college campuses. And we are not talking about illegal drugs, but legal, prescription ones. Stimulants, commonly prescribed for attention-deficit disorder, are finding their way into the hands of students with perfect mental health. A recent study titled Under Pressure: College Students and the Abuse of Rx Stimulants found that 1 in 5 college students (20 percent) report abusing prescription stimulants at least once.

Beware: Statins may increase your diabetes risk!

Health recommendations are changing so often, it can give you whiplash. What is true today, may not be true tomorrow, and this is especially true as new studies continue to turn old recommendations on their heads! The latest to break the mold? The common recommendation that all patients with diabetes take statin drugs to reduce their risk of heart disease.

Statin drugs may increase your risk for cataracts

Cataract surgery is so common that it almost seems like a normal part of aging. Cloudy lenses in the eye are surgically removed, and new ones are popped in like contacts. Voila, Grandma is seeing 20/20 again. But cataract surgery can have complications, and there may an uncomfortable period of vaguely cloudy vision before eye doctors consider cataracts “bad enough” to operate. So are there ways to prevent this eye surgery?

Antibiotics: The more you use them, the more you abuse them

Antibiotics are generally understood by the average person as the drugs used to cure infections. And most people fully expect their doctors to prescribe antibiotics for a bad cough, cold, sore throat, flu or ear infection. But in a study conducted by Utah University researchers, it was found that “in more than 25 percent of cases, such prescriptions are useless because the infection stems from a virus, which cannot be treated with antibiotics.” Treating a viral infection with antibiotics means that you’re taking medicine that may have no chance of helping you, and a very real chance of hurting you. So why would doctors prescribe an antibiotic that does not help?

When your meds turn on you

You can’t miss them -- on television, online and in magazines, advertisements showing an average person (someone just like you, perhaps) suffering from one medical ailment or another. With the help of the medicine being promoted, they feel a thousand times better and get on with their daily lives. Then comes the rapid-fire or, in the case of newspapers and magazines, the fine-print, about the medication’s potential side effects, ranging from nausea to even death.

Popping pills for pains?

The U.S. is one of the richest, most privileged countries in the world — and also the most avid consumers of pain pills, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control. We take twice as many opioid pain-relievers per person as Canada does (they are #2 on the dubious list of pill-popping nations).

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