Prescription drug use by younger adults for heart disease-related conditions is increasing rapidly, far outpacing older adults which shows upcoming clinical and financial challenges facing the U.S. healthcare system, according to a new report conducted by Medco Health Solutions.
The report found that between 2001 and 2006, the number of 20 to 44 year-olds taking prescription medications to treat high cholesterol increased 68 percent, and use of anti-hypertensives rose 21 percent.
The analysis reports that the estimated number of 20 to 44 year olds nationwide on lipid-lowering drugs surged from 2.5 million in 2001 to 4.2 million in 2006, while the number of people of that age taking anti-hypertensives jumped from 7 million to 8.5 million in the five-year period.
“The good news is that younger patients are taking medications that control conditions that, if left untreated, could lead to heart attacks and strokes - indicating that physicians are screening patients more regularly and treating these precursors more aggressively than in the past. The bad news is that these conditions are showing up in patients at younger ages, which could be the result of the growing obesity epidemic and various lifestyle factors,” Robert Epstein, MD, Medco's chief medical officer.
Daniel Jones, AHA president, concurred, “This is good news, that more people in this age range are taking these medicines.”