Is Your Medication Working Overtime?
Many medications on the market today are prescribed for one condition but have been found to help others as well. Is your drug doing double duty?
Statins Do Double Duty
With that warning given, Siegel goes on to say that there are a number of other medications on the market that also show more than one benefit.
As mentioned above, the latest generation of antidepressants, such as Prozac and Effexor, can reduce hot flashes by as much as 50%, making them a possible alternative for women who can't or don't want to take hormone replacement therapy.
The drugs known as statins, which are used primarily to lower cholesterol, are showing much promise when it comes to fighting a number of other conditions. Recent studies have shown that statins may lessen the risk of bone fractures in older women, although the results are not conclusive yet and researchers are calling for further investigation.
Statins are also being recommended for nearly all patients with type 2 diabetes. In guidelines released by the American College of Physicians in the April 20, 2004, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, lead researcher Vincenza Snow, MD, recommended that anyone with type 2 diabetes and at least one heart disease risk factor should be taking one of the statins. The risk factors are:
- 55 or older
- High blood pressure
- High LDL "bad" cholesterol (LDL over 100)
- Physical inactivity
- Existing heart disease
Diuretics, which are used to treat high blood pressure by reducing fluid levels in the body, are believed to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease by as much as 75%, according to research reported at the 9th International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders. Once Alzheimer's disease has developed, the oral diabetes medicine Avandia may improve memory and thinking ability in people with a mild form of the disease.
Epilepsy Drug Has Many Uses
Topamax, used to control epileptic seizures, may offer new treatment options for other conditions as well. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio found that alcoholics taking Topamax were able to reduce their daily alcohol intake and increase the number of alcohol-free days they had while attending an alcoholism treatment program. Topamax is thought to work by inhibiting the release of dopamine, stimulated by alcohol, in the brain's "reward" center, thus curbing alcohol cravings.