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HbL Blog

More to Question about Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements for Bone Health

For decades, health care guidelines and medical experts have recommended that older adults take a calcium with vitamin D supplement to strengthen their bones and prevent a bone fracture.  Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones weaken, leading to an increase in the risk of a fracture. It is more common in older adults, and especially in women after menopause.  An important preventive health care goal for older adults is to prevent a hip fracture, one of the most devastating and feared consequences of osteoporosis. 

Calcium and vitamin D intake is believed to maintain bone health and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.  To prevent bone loss in men and women, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends an intake of 1000 mg of calcium per day up to age 70 years and 1200 mg per day thereafter, and 800 to 1000 units per day or more of vitamin D for people age 50 and older.   Because most people cannot get enough calcium and vitamin D on a daily basis through the foods they eat, calcium and vitamin D supplements are considered almost universally necessary.   However, over the years, research that has evaluated the benefit of calcium and vitamin D supplements in reducing the risk of bone fractures has found inconsistent results.  The safety of these supplements also has been questioned.  Several studies published in 2010 to 2013 found a possible association between calcium supplements and increased risk of heart attack.  In contrast, dietary intake of calcium showed no such relationship.

A new study sheds light on the value of calcium and vitamin D supplements to reduce the risk of bone fractures and most importantly hip fractures.   

Read more: More to Question about Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements for Bone Health

New Shingles Vaccine Available

There is a new shingles vaccine available.  It is called Shingrix® and is more effective in preventing shingles episodes than the original shingles vaccine Zostavax®.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee recommended in October 2017, that Shingrix be the preferred vaccine for shingles.  Once the recommendation is approved by the CDC director, it will become official policy.  

Shingrix® is making a big splash in medical news because it has been shown to prevent more than 90% of shingles cases, compared to just over 50% of shingles cases with the Zostavax vaccine.  Importantly, the new vaccine appears to be equally effective in patients over the age of 70 years, which is an important benefit compared to the original vaccine.  Duration of protection has yet to be confirmed, but appears promising.   

Read more: New Shingles Vaccine Available

It Is Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

Smoking increases the risk for heart disease and heart-related death.  Quitting smoking is known to reduce these risks.  However, the impact of quitting smoking on older adults has not been well-studied.  Does quitting smoking after the age of 60 make a difference? 

The answer is yes.  A study looked at over 500,000 smokers and nonsmokers aged 60 and older, to evaluate the impact of smoking and quitting smoking on heart-related outcomes specifically in this age group.  The 3 major heart-related outcomes were evaluated:  (1) cardiovascular deaths, (2) acute coronary events (defined as heart attack, unstable angina, or coronary death), and (3) stroke.

Read more: It Is Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

Four Rules for Choosing Cough and Cold Products 

It is that time of year again, when the common cold—a virus—becomes more common.  Hopefully, you wash your hands frequently, cough into your elbow, and drink plenty of fluids to help prevent getting sick.  However, for most people, catching a cold will be unavoidable this winter.  Many people seek nonprescription drug therapy to reduce the bothersome symptoms of stuffy nose, scratchy throat, runny nose, watery eyes, and cough.  Older adults often take other medicines or have underlying medical conditions and thus must be extra careful in choosing the right cough and cold products.  Drug interactions and adverse drug effects must be everyone’s first concern.  This blog will summarize the good and bad about the different nonprescription cough and cold products and provide tips for how to choose a safe and effective product.

Read more: Four Rules for Choosing Cough and Cold Products

Know Your Medicines:  The Basics 

October is American Pharmacists Month.  This is the perfect month – actually, any month is the perfect month – to stop and think about the medicines you take every day.  What kinds of things do you need to know about your medicines to take them safely, take them correctly, and prevent medication errors? 

HbL PharmaConsulting promotes “8 Things to Know about Your Medications,” listed below.  Many of you already might know this information about each of your medicines.  However, if you don’t or if you know only some of these 8 points, it never is too late to ask more specific questions.  Pharmacists are medication experts and can help you understand your prescription and nonprescription medicines. 

Read more: Know Your Medicines: The Basics

What Can Your Pharmacist Do for You?

Who should you turn to with questions about your medicines? The answer is your pharmacist.  But you may not be familiar with what your pharmacist can do for you. Your doctor and your pharmacist are a powerful team, working to ensure the best selection and management of your prescription and nonprescription medicines.

Read more: What Can Your Pharmacist Do for You?

Fall Risk & Medications

As we age, the risk of falling increases.  More than one-third of adults aged 65 and older fall each year.  Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries in the home for older adults and up to 95% of hip fractures result from a fall.  Thus, preventing falls has become a national health goal. 

Medications are one of the many factors that can increase the risk of falls.  Some of the other factors include certain medical conditions, poor nutrition, and smoking.  In addition, natural changes of aging such as decreased vision, balance, and muscle or joint strength can contribute to the risk of falling.  The good news is that falls can be prevented. 

Read more: Fall Risk and Medications

Daily Aspirin May No Longer Be for Everyone

Research in medicine is ongoing, continually bringing to light new insight on how to manage diseases and promote health. As a result, what might have been state of the art drug therapy 10 years ago – or even 2 years ago – may no longer be the case. A current example of this is the use of daily aspirin. For decades, doctors have been recommending a “baby” or low-dose aspirin once a day to prevent a heart attack for just about all patients as they age. This no longer appears to be the case for a subset of patients.

Read more: Daily Aspirin May No Longer Be for Everyone

Making the most of multiple medications

More than half of adults age 65 and older have 3 or more chronic medical problems. Common chronic or ongoing health problems include high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma, or arthritis, for example. The more health problems a person has, the more medicines typically are needed to manage those conditions.

Read more: Making the most of multiple medications