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Opšta medicina
2015, vol. 21, iss. 3-4, pp. 81-90
article language: Serbian
document type: Original Paper
Polypharmacy in patients who are using EMS Belgrade services
aGradski zavod za hitnu medicinsku pomoć, Beograd
bDom zdravlja 'Dr Boško Vrebalov', Zrenjanin

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Introduction: Polypharmacy represents a serious problem due to its many side effects. There is no single and clear definition for polypharmacy. Researchers mostly agree that it represents a number of drugs used at the same period of time. In this study, we have defined polypharmacy as simultaneous use of 6 or more drugs, either occasionally or continuously, during a period of 7 days. Objective: To identify the number of simultaneously used drugs and their correlation with gender and age of the study subjects. Method: In the period from 4 March 2008 until 29 March 2013, one emergency medicine doctor surveyed his patients regarding drugs they had used occasionally or continuously in the last 7 days. Vitamins and other supplements have also been accounted for, and complete results have been identified in the questionnaires. Collected data were entered into an excel database, and statistical analysis was performed using SPSS 11.0 for Windows. Results: 1516 subjects (649 male and 867 female) have completed the survey. Average age was 65.84±17.69. Average number of simultaneously used drugs was 6.82±3.79 (interval from 0 to 25). Age difference was not statistically significant. Six or more drugs used 847 subjects (349 male and 498 female). Average age of male subjects was 70.89±12.79 and of female subjects was 74.0±11.29. The largest number of subjects (60.10%) was 66-85 years old. Majority of subjects (70.60%) used 6-10 drugs. In both gender groups 39.79% of subjects used more then 10 drugs, and 80.18% of them were older than 65. On average, men used 9.55±3.06, and women 9.23±2.77 different drugs. Gender difference was not statistically significant (p=0.136). Average number of used drugs was increasing with subjects' age and it was the highest in 66-75 age groups. Age difference was statistically significant only between the younger subjects and subjects older than 65. Out of the total number of subjects with polypharmacy 74.97% were older than 65 years. They took more drugs compared to the younger subjects and there is a statistically significant difference between them (p=0.008). Conclusion: More than half of our study subjects have been exposed to polypharmacy and the same number of them has been exposed to excessive poly- pharmacy. Polypharmacy is significantly linked to ageing.


polypharmacy; ageing; gender; Belgrade emergency medical service


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