Almost Half of Americans Take At Least One Prescription Drug

Almost Half of Americans Take At Least One Prescription Drug

Half of elderly take three or more

By , About.com Guide

Is America the most medicated nation on Earth? Could be, according data just released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showing that at least half of all Americans takes at least one prescription drug, with one in six taking three or more medications.

“Americans are taking medicines that lower cholesterol and reduce the threat of heart disease, that help lift people out of debilitating depressions, and that keep diabetes in check,” said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson in an HHS press release.

The report, Health, United States 2004presents the latest health data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics and dozens of other Federal health agencies, academic and professional health associations, and international health organizations.

The latest report shows continued improvements in Americans’ health, with life expectancy at birth up to 77.3 years in 2002, a record, and deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke – the nation’s three leading killers – all down 1 percent to 3 percent.

Prescription drug use is rising among people of all ages, and use increases with age. Five out of six persons 65 and older are taking at least one medication and almost half the elderly take three or more.

Adult use of antidepressants almost tripled between 1988-1994 and 1999-2000. Ten percent of women 18 and older and 4 percent of men now take antidepressants. Prescriptions for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, blood glucose/sugar regulators and cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, in particular, increased notably between 1996 and 2002.

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