Living Well: Mark your calendars: MRH to hold Brown Bag Medication Review event for public | CraigDailyPress.com

Living Well: Mark your calendars: MRH to hold Brown Bag Medication Review event for public

Memorial Regional Health staff/For Craig Press

Are the number of pills you take adding up year after year? Do you wish you could take fewer, or wonder how your medicines react with each other? If you are taking more than a few medications, you may have these questions or others. This Sunday is your chance to get answers! Stop by Memorial Regional Health's Conference Rooms between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 24, and sit down to speak with a pharmacist. Don't forget to bring all your medications and supplements — brown bag optional.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, nearly one-third of adults in the U.S. take five or more medications. The more medications you take, the higher your chance for an adverse drug event or drug interaction. The AHRQ defines an adverse drug event as "harm experienced by a patient as a result of exposure to a medication." Adverse drug events account for nearly 700,000 emergency department visits and 100,000 hospitalizations each year. The best way to avoid such an event is to take stock of your medicines regularly and discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

"We want to improve the overall health of our community by conducting a thorough review of medications for individuals. We're offering one-on-one medication reviews in a private setting," said Kyle Miller, PharmD, director of pharmacy for MRH.

Chronic illnesses often mean seeing several doctors at the same time. Seeing multiple doctors and specialists can set people up for polypharmacy and drug interactions. That's why it's extra important to pack all of your medications and bring them to every appointment.

"Speak up. Tell your doctor what you are feeling, and ask questions. You need to be your own advocate," said Karen Sweeney, PharmD, clinical pharmacist and certified geriatric pharmacist with Memorial Regional Health.

Sweeney finds that the elderly, especially those with chronic health conditions, are at the highest risk for drug interactions. As we age, our ability to handle medications decreases. That's because along with our skin, eyes and ears, our internal organs are growing older, too. With age, our kidneys and liver begin to wear down, leaving us less able to metabolize drugs. Unfortunately, most people age 65 or older take at least five to six medications every day. That combination can lead to adverse drug reactions or drug interactions, requiring seniors to be careful and thoughtful about what they take.

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"Often, elderly folks don't need high doses of medications due to their decreased liver and kidney function. Keeping doses as low as possible helps lower the risk of adverse drug reactions," Sweeney said.

MRH's Brown Bag Medication Review event is free, and no appointment is necessary, so just stop in. Don't forget to bring your supplements, vitamins and herbal remedies, along with your medications. The pharmacists will be giving out "passports" to record your medications so you can keep an accurate and up-to-date list of medicines to bring to doctor appointments.

"We welcome anybody who would like to discuss their medications or ask questions about them. We'll help you understand your medicines, their side effects, and look for duplication or drug interactions. Our ultimate goal is that people get the most benefit from their medications with the least side effects and complications," said Natalie Cardona, PharmD, MRH clinical pharmacist.