Findings from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported 70% of adults aged 40-79 years in the US taking one or more prescription drugs, and around 22% using five or more prescription medications. Medications, while necessary for many disease conditions and beneficial for alleviating symptoms, can carry risks of side effects and adverse interactions. With polypharmacy described as the use of five or more medications at the same time, it occurs more frequently with older adult patients who usually have various concurrent medical conditions.
Polypharmacy evokes safety concerns due to the increased risks of drug-drug interactions, prescribing cascades, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic changes with aging, and has been implicated in fall risks and associated hip fractures. Medications and drugs testing can help monitor medications a patient is taking, and increase awareness for potential interactions and injury risks.
Testing for Medications & Drugs involves analyzing patient samples for the presence and levels of certain prescription medications which are monitored for the health and safety of the patient. Pharmacogenetic testing is also an option for medications and drugs testing that can identify the most effective, appropriate medications for a patient. Medications that usually require monitoring include blood thinners, diabetes medications, seizure medications, heart medications, immunosuppressants, certain antibiotics, and medications affecting brain health such as lithium. Harm to a patient due to a medication is deemed an adverse drug event (ADE). The CDC notes that 1.3 million emergency department visits are due to ADEs per year.
Testing for medications and drugs uses blood sampling to determine levels of specific medications to establish effective, therapeutic dosing and ensure medication levels are not harmful. Various tests are available through Rupa Health which assess for different medications, and others which can analyze for most effective medications for a patient. An example from this category includes:
A physical examination, health history, and diet diary can be helpful in assessing health and wellness of the patient. Additional testing such as the following would be beneficial:
Treatment is dependent on the outcome of the tests and patient assessment, and can lead to dose adjustment of the medication tested for, with potential diet recommendations for missing nutrients.
Some treatment plans can include: