Hospital CorridorIf you're 65 or over, chances are you take one (or more) of the four drugs responsible for a whopping 60% of seniors' emergency room visits and subsequent hospitalizations caused by adverse reactions. (This doesn't include the people who visited the ERs and were then sent home).
A recent study in New England Journal of Medicine reports that for every 10 seniors hospitalized because of bad drug reactions, 6 are there because of prescriptions for diabetes and heart disease.
It's a finding that echoes a message we've been sharing at MyHealingKitchen for quite a while. Although many seniors are helped by their medications, more than 100,000 are harmed every year. And the 4 described below are the worst offenders.
Many times, simple improvements in a person's diet and lifestyle can make these dangerous drugs unnecessary. (Food, after all, really is our best medicine.)
If you, or a loved one, is on any of these drugs listed below, I've also included some "food substitutions" that will provide similar benefits without the dangers.
Of course, you should never discontinue any medication without first consulting your doctor - but solid research shows these foods produce similar drug-like benefits, albeit safely.
1. Coumadin (warfarin)
Coumadin, a widely prescribed blood-thinner, is responsible for 33% of all seniors' ER visits and hospitalizations for adverse drug reactions.
This serious medication is given to people who have blood clots near the heart, in the lungs or people who experience arrhythmias or have mechanical artificial heart valves. Coumadin can cause people to bleed heavily, externally or internally without clotting - a kind of drug-induced hemophilia. Common side effects include severe bleeding, bloody stool, chest pain, vomiting, difficulty moving and numbness.
What to do: Ask your doctor to revisit the prescription. Do you still need it? Could he/she switch you to something less risky?
It may be permissible for you to switch to some of these "anti-clotting foods" instead: Omega-3 rich seafood … strawberries and other berries … dried fruits such as prunes and apricots … and fresh veggies, such as broccoli and avocado.
You can add these anti-clotting spices and herbs to the list, too: Cinnamon … rosemary … peppermint … ginger … thyme … cayenne pepper … and curry powder. Many of our MyHealingKitchen recipes contain these ingredients, especially our heart-disease healing recipes .
2. Injected insulin
Some 14% of seniors hospitalized after an urgent care visit arrive there due to insulin injections gone awry.
Surprised? This doesn't shock us at all, given that according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 1 in 20 type 1 diabetics will die of severe hypoglycemia caused by an insulin overdose.
Type 1 diabetics must inject insulin, but they can dramatically reduce their dose by making healthful food and lifestyle changes. (Those simple adjustments are detailed in our bestselling book, The 30 Day Diabetes Cure ).
In our book, Dr. Ripich describes one of his type 1 patients - a man named Jay - who lost 20 pounds, reduced his insulin dose by 80%, and found more energy and better health as a result.
Before Jay began our program, his doctors condoned him eating sugary foods and refined carbs, as long as he injected "enough insulin."
But "enough insulin" after over-consuming sugar and refined carbs can easily be "too much" - and deadly. The smaller the dose, the less chance you'll have a hazardous or fatal reaction.
What to do: If you're a type 1 diabetic and you inject insulin as part of your medical regimen, it's time to use diet and exercise to improve your insulin sensitivity, which will reduce the amount of insulin you'll need to inject.
If you're a type 2 diabetic who is currently injecting insulin, good news! Once you get your diabetes under control with The 30 Day Diabetes Cure, you'll be able to make insulin injections a thing of the past.
3. Aspirin and clopidogrel (Plavix)
Whatever you do, don't switch out "an apple a day" for "an aspirin a day."
People with diabetes and high blood pressure are often advised by their doctors to take a daily aspirin - because they're at a higher risk of a heart attack. But aspirin and clopidogrel are responsible for 13% of all hospitalizations of the elderly due to adverse drug reactions.
All of us, whether we have heart disease or not, are urged by doctors and drug ads to take a daily aspirin to protect us from heart disease. Few realize that aspirin is far from harmless.
A recent Daily Mail article reported that a British study released in September found that aspirin can double the chances of dangerous internal bleeding in people without a history of heart disease, while having zero effect on the rate of heart attacks or strokes.
Another study showed that 4% of healthy people who take aspirin on a daily basis are hospitalized for gastrointestinal bleeding.
Plavix, a form of clopidogrel, is so commonly harmful that a Google search turns up the link " Plavix Injury Lawyers Now Accepting Claims Nationwide ." The drug has been linked to cerebral hemorrhage, stomach ulcers, brain bleeding, plus - drum roll! - heart attacks.
The most commonly reported Plavix side effect is fatal bleeding. And it's known for causing thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, or the formation of blood clots in the body's small blood vessels.
What to do: Check with your doctor to see if the risks of taking aspirin or clopidogrel drugs outweigh the benefits. Whether or not heart disease is a concern for you, substitute the little white pill for the heart-healthful foods mentioned above in the Coumadin section. (You can find out more about the best and worst foods for a healthier heart here .)
Like Coumadin, aspirin is taken for the heart, to discourage blood clots from forming. It's also taken to counteract inflammation. But there are a variety of delicious foods that perform these same services.
So drop that bottle, and stock up on anti-inflammatory foods such as olive oil, onions, wild-caught Pacific fish, and plain yogurt.
4. Oral diabetes drugs (Metformin, Glucophage, etc.)
Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes (1-in-10!) and that number is rapidly increasing every year.
Even more troubling: One in three people in the US is pre-diabetic and doesn't know it.
The vast majority (95%) of diabetes is type 2, the kind caused by poor diet and lifestyle, yet doctors are not telling patients to make better choices. They believe (mistakenly) that people just won't change their habits.
As a result, they put patients on drugs that eventually lead to decreased health, amputations, vision loss, painful neuropathy, and early death. These oral hypoglycemic agents (Metformin and Glucophage, to name a few) are the fourth highest cause of all seniors' urgent hospitalizations due to adverse drug reactions.
Read drug company ads or listen to your doc, and all you'll hear is: "Side effects and complications are rare." Well, that doesn't exactly jibe with the CDC's findings. In fact, it's contradictory.
Here are some of the more subtle signs of a Metformin overdose (which leads to lactic acidosis, a poisoning of the blood due to excess lactic acid and insufficient oxygen): Sweating, shakiness, blurred vision, cold sweats, irregular heartbeat, labored breathing, and fatigue. Scarier symptoms include seizures, confusion, difficulty speaking, coma and death. Yikes.
What to do: If you're not yet diagnosed with diabetes, do all that you can to stay that way. Avoid sugar and processed white flour products. Eat whole foods including quality protein (grass-fed beef … organic chicken … wild salmon … non-hormone dairy products … artisanal cheese), vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
For some yummy ideas, dig into our MyHealingKitchen diabetes-healing recipes here .
We've witnessed thousands of type 2 diabetics reduce and completely eliminate dependence on oral hypoglycemic agents by making the simple food and lifestyle changes laid out in our book, The 30 Day Diabetes Cure . Check out one of our very favorite success stories: Doug Nasur .
Don't become another unfortunate statistic
It's too late to re-examine your daily pill cocktail when you're racing to the ER. These 4 prescription drugs can be truly dangerous - even when taken exactly as prescribed.
That's true for the 60,000 seniors who found themselves at the ER or checked into the hospital because of an adverse drug reaction.
You can avoid the hospital entirely by reviewing your drug regimen with your doctor - and by getting a second opinion from a doc or health practitioner who brings complimentary alternative medicine options to the table, like our very own Dr. Stefan Ripich (co-author of The 30 Day Diabetes Cure ).
Now it's your turn…
Are you currently taking any of these 4 drugs? Have you noticed any adverse reactions?
Have you been to the emergency room or because of them? Please share your experiences and the safer alternatives you've adopted in a comment below.