Drugs and prescribing in the older patient

Miles Witham, Denis O'Mahony, J George

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The use of pharmacological agents is often a central component of medical therapy for older people. Medications can relieve symptoms, improve function, and prevent illness, but they also have the capacity to inflict great harm. Older people are at particular risk of such harms as a result of impaired homeostatic reserve, of altered drug metabolism, the presence of multimorbidity and consequent polypharmacy, which increases both exposure to potentially harmful agents and the chance of drug–drug interactions. The therapeutic priorities for older, frail people may differ when compared to younger, robust patients; limited life expectancy means that attempts to prolong life may become relatively less important than the relief of symptoms and avoidance of side effects and medication burden.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Textbook of Medicine
EditorsJohn Firth, Christopher Conlon, Timothy Cox
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198746690
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2020


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