Common Medications Poison The Elderly
The FDA released a surprising report on November
29, 2007 saying that they FDA cannot protect the American public
from toxic drug reactions. The 56-page report by its Subcommittee on
Science and Technology stated the FDA "suffers from serious
scientific deficiencies and is not positioned to meet current or
emerging regulatory responsibilities." This blistering report on the
life-threatening shortcomings of the FDA was released with the stamp
of approval of the head of the FDA, Commissioner Andrew von
This should come as no surprise to anyone paying
attention to the actions of the FDA. But it is surprising to hear
the FDA admit it. If you read the entire report, you will see the
purpose of the report is not to reform the FDA. That would be too
much to hope for. This report is a part of a PR campaign to get
Congress to give the FDA millions of more dollars for genetic
research to see who has the correct genes to be able to take what
Prescription drug toxicity is a real problem in
this country. Over 100,000 US citizens die each year from drug
reactions. Another 3 million are hospitalized from drug reactions.
Half of those people are conveniently already in the hospital. (In
fact if you add the number of deaths from drug reactions to the
deaths in hospitals, the total is the third leading cause of death
in the US.) The FDA has not responded to this threat to our health.
The purpose of this article is not to discuss the
cozy relationship the FDA has with the companies they are suppose to
be regulating. Or to question why the FDA is not doing its supposed
job of policing the health of our citizens. Rather I am going to
give another opinion on how prescription drugs are stealing years
from our elderly.
The average 65 year old person in the US takes 15
different drugs. Two drugs to "combat" the symptoms of some
condition, 13 are prescribed to counteract the symptoms of the two.
The toxicity of these drugs is a real problem especially for people
in the later years of their lives.
I could review lots of drugs that are short and/or
long term health threats. Statin drugs, for example, are a 20
billion dollar a year industry by themselves. Given to lower
cholesterol, the long term effects of taking statin drugs are
potentially worse then the condition they are suppose to offset.
Studies show statin drugs affect the human bodies ability to use CoQ
10, a vital substance needed by the cells of your body, especially
the heart muscle. Use could result in heart disease. More than half
the people that die from heart attacks have normal
cholesterol. But that is another story.
Annuals of Internal Medicine reports that three drugs are
responsible for a third (58,000) of all emergency room visits for
drug interactions for people over age 65. Those three drugs are
Coumadin (17.3%), insulin (13.0%) and the heart drug
digoxin (3.2%). Coumadin is a great example of this
Coumadin is prescribed to prevent a stroke. It is
commonly given to people who have "atrial fibrillation". It is
suppose to "thin" your blood so that it won't create clots causing a
blockage and thus a stroke. What the heck is Coumadin? Well, it is
Warfarin Sodium. So what is that? The best
place to find out is at your local Home Depot or hardware store. Ask
the clerk where the rat poison is. Warfarin has been long used for
rodent extermination. It causes the creature that consumes it to
bleed to death internally. It is very effective.
What Warfarin does is poison the Vitamin K receptors
on platelets so the cannot stick together and clot. It also poisons
all Vitamin functions throughout the body. Strange, if you consider
Vitamin K is needed by the body for health. It is a potent
antioxidant and works throughout the body to assist with vital
functions. Vitamin K is necessary for your body to use calcium to
form new bone materials, Warfarin also blocks that. So if you are
taking Warfarin you increase your risk for osteoporosis. In fact
anyone using Warfarin for longer than one year has a 25% increase in
the risk of bone fractures. Did your doctor tell you that when he
I mentioned that
Warfarin inhibits your body's ability to use calcium to make new
bone. This side effect results in calcium accumulating in your
arteries. In the medical world this is called hardening of the
arteries or arterioscelrosis. Strange that Coumadin is given to
prevent strokes yet a side effect is to accelerate poor
cardiovascular health. I wonder if your doctor explained that to
The line between too much and just
right with this drug is very fine. A rupture of a blood vessel in
your body could result in you bleeding to death since the ability of
your blood to clot has been severely curtailed. In fact Ariel
Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, ruptured a vessel in his brain
and had a hemorrhage related stroke. This type of stroke has
increased by 400% in the last ten years with the rise in Coumadin
use. If you are older than 80, your chances of this kind of stroke
increase to 45%. (This is a tenfold increase over the last over the
last ten years. The rate increased in this age
group from 2.5 in 1988 to 45.9 in 1999 according to a
University of Cincinnati study.)
The drug is commonly prescribed to prevent blood
clotting, which can lead to ischemic stroke, the most common type of
stroke. However, Warfarin is associated with another type of stroke,
called an intracerebral brain hemorrhage, which is a ruptured blood
vessel resulting in bleeding in the brain reported the study's lead
author, Dr. Matthew L. Flaherty, a neurologist.2
God forbid you have an accident at home or in a car and start
bleeding externally or worse internally. But at least you didn't die
from a blood clot induced stroke.
study demonstrates that we need to be careful when we use these
therapies," said Dr. Michael B. Rothberg, an associate professor of
medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine.
"Not all patients with atrial fibrillation should be getting
Warfarin," he said. "Patients at the highest risk for stroke will
benefit the most, and patients at the highest risk for bleeding will
benefit the least," he said. Rothberg noted that although
is standard treatment for atrial fibrillation, not everyone with
atrial fibrillation is at the same risk of stroke. "I don't think
that most doctors prescribing Warfarin are assessing their patient's
risk of stroke and risk of bleeding, but they should be," he said.
In addition, Rothberg also believes that better INR monitoring could
help reduce the problem of bleeding. "In Europe, they are doing home
monitoring," he said. "Like patients who monitor their own blood
sugar, there are patients who monitor their own INR."2
You might be saying to yourself about this time,
this doesn't make sense. Why would my doctor prescribe rat poison to
me to lower my odds of having a stroke induced by a blood clot when
the use of it can cause even worse health issues. Actually the
question is worse than that. First, you may never have such a stroke
whether you take Coumadin or not. But by taking Coumadin you are
changing how your body works that in itself very well could result in
brittle bones or hardening of your arteries or bleeding to death.
This logic (or lack of) is very prevalent in the
medical business. Drugs treat symptoms. It is safe to say very few
if any drugs actually treat causes of illness. They treat symptoms.
Treating a symptom is like covering up the flashing red light on the
dash board of your car with a piece of tape. Does eliminating your
ability to see the light fix the problem? Does your body cause clots because it has a deficiency of Warfarin?
So why would a doctor
prescribe rat poison to anyone to hopefully prevent something that
may never happen? Well, it is the accepted method to treat sticky
platelets. If you don't want a blood clot in the brain, prevent your
blood from clotting, period. And besides it guarantees you will return on a regular
and often basis to his office to get your platelets tested.
Is there anything else more safe that could help?
Most elderly (and younger) Americans have nutritional deficiencies.
Omega 3 (fish oil) and magnesium are both known to help atrial
fibrillation, stroke risk and they help bones form and have no
adverse side effects.
Older people in the
Mediterranean area live longer and have a higher quality of life in
their elder years. Strange, since those folks are poorer and have
less access to top quality medical care than their counterparts in
America. They do not take drug therapies but they do have access to
better quality food that is fresh, organic and not processed.
Be informed. If you are prescribed any drug, learn
about it. Ask questions. Why do I need to take this drug? What could
happen if I don't take it? What are the possible side effects? Are they worse than the reason you are suppose to take it
in the first place? Don't assume your doctor knows more than you do
about it either. Ask your pharmacist as well. Also make sure that at
least one person, either your pharmacist or your doctor, knows ALL the drugs
you are taking because they can interact. And lastly eat good food.
Eat organic foods. Avoid genetically modified products. Take quality
supplements. Try not to eat chemicals you can't pronounce. Limit
your intake of processed foods. Drink plenty of water. Avoid
Aspartame at all costs. And if you do take a prescription do so from
an informed perspective.
Coumadin (generic name - Warfarin) is in a
class of drugs known as anticoagulants. It interferes with blood
clotting by depressing the production in the liver of blood
coagulation factors that are Vitamin-K dependent.
What is Coumadin Used For?:
It is most often used in the treatment of pulmonary emboli,
deep-vein thrombosis, atrial heart arrhythmia, heart attack and
post operatively in cardiac valve replacement.
Cautions of Coumadin (Warfarin):
SIDE EFFECTS: The two
most serious side effects are bleeding and necrosis (gangrene) of
the skin. Bleeding can occur in any organ or tissue. Bleeding around
the brain can cause severe headache and paralysis. Bleeding in the
joints can cause joint pain and swelling. Bleeding in the stomach or
intestines can cause weakness, fainting spells, black tarry stools,
vomiting of blood, or coffee ground material. Bleeding in the
kidneys can cause back pain and blood in urine. Other side effects
include purple, painful toes, rash, hair loss, bloating, diarrhea,
and jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin). Signs of overdose include
bleeding gums, bruising, nosebleeds, heavy menstrual bleeding, and
prolonged bleeding from cuts - Medicine Net.com
Want to read the actual warning and prescription
information included with Coumadin,
Beware of drug
company studies on the safety and effectiveness of any drug. A drug
is a drug because it causes changes inside your body. If it did not
cause changes it wouldn't be called a drug. All drugs have side
effects. The FDA accepts the information the drug companies supply
to prove the value of their drugs, regardless. These companies do
not report negative results of a drug study. Why would they want to
do that? Instead, your doctor and his peers are suppose to report
those results. Wait a minute, does that mean we are all part of a
huge series of drug experiments? The drugs are prescribed to the
public and when enough people die from a drug then it is removed
from the safe list? Vioxx is a good example of this experiment in
progress. This is not to say there aren't some "good" drugs, it is
more to say be a knowledgeable consumer, your life may depend on it.
1 FDA Sleeps While Common Medications Poison The Elderly -
Byron J. Richards, Founder/Director of Wellness Resources (www.wellnessresources.com),
is a Board-Certified Clinical Nutritionist, a charter professional
member of the International and American Associations of Clinical
Nutritionists (IAACN) since 1991. He is a nationally-renowned health
expert, radio personality, and educator.
Brain Bleeds From Blood Thinner on the Rise By Steven
Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter,
3 The use of
Warfarin with natural supplements Ray Sahelian, M.D.
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH GUIDELINE FOR WARFARIN - OSHA USA
Department of Labor HEALTH HAZARD INFORMATION