Polypharmacy and Pharmacological Treatment of Diabetes in Older Individuals: A Population-Based Study in Quebec, Canada
Our objectives were to describe the use of pharmacological treatments in older adults with diabetes and to identify the factors associated with the use of a combination of hypoglycemic, antihypertensive and lipid-lowering agents. Using the Quebec Integrated Chronic Disease Surveillance System, we conducted a population-based cohort study among individuals aged 66-75 years with diabetes in 2014-2015. We described the number of medications and the classes of medications used and calculated the proportion of individuals using at least one medication from each of these classes: hypoglycemics, antihypertensives and lipid-lowering agents. We identified the factors associated with the use of this combination of treatments by performing robust Poisson regressions. The 146,710 individuals used an average of 12 (SD 7) different medications, mostly cardiovascular (91.3% of users), hormones, including hypoglycemic agents (84.5%), and central nervous system medications (79.8%). The majority of individuals (59%) were exposed to the combination of treatments and the factor most strongly associated was the presence of cardiovascular comorbidities (RR: 1.29; 99% CI: 1.28-1.31). Older individuals with diabetes are exposed to a large number of medications. While the use of the combination of treatments is significant and could translate into cardiovascular benefits at the population level, the potential risk associated with polypharmacy needs to be documented.