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High prevalence of polypharmacy among elderly Danes

Polypharmacy is associated with an increased risk of adverse health outcomes. Based on data from Danish national registers collected in 2016, Kornholt and Bring Christensen estimated the prevalence of polypharmacy, defined as treatment with more than five different medicines, and related it to age, sex and place of living. The authors report that polypharmacy was higher in women than in men and increased with age. It was 7% among citizens aged 40-49 years, 51% among citizens ≥ 75 years, and 66% among citizens ≥ 90 years. The authors found only minor regional differences. The most commonly redeemed medicine classes and individual medicines for older citizens were pain medication, cardiovascular medicines and gastrointestinal medicines, in particular proton pump inhibitors.

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Prevalence of polypharmacy in Denmark
Jonatan Kornholt & Mikkel Bring Christensen


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