A new study finds almost 60 percent of American adults are taking at least one prescription drug, up sharply since 2000.
Almost every type of medication is being used at a higher rate, the researchers report.
Eight of the 10 most commonly used drugs in the United States are for high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes and other elements of “cardiometabolic syndrome.”
The most commonly used individual drug in 2011-2012 was the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin (Zocor), which is taken by about 8 percent of U.S. adults, according to The Washington Post.
The prevalence of prescription drug use increased from 51 percent in 1999-2000 to 59 percent in 2011-2012. The prevalence of polypharmacy—the use of five or more prescription drugs—increased from 8 percent to 15 percent.
Use of medications for high blood pressure increased from 20 percent to 27 percent, while medication use for cholesterol drugs increased from 7 percent to 17 percent. Use of antidepressants rose from 7 percent to 13 percent.
Another drug that increased in use is a proton-pump inhibitor used for gastroesophageal reflux, which is more common among people who are overweight or obese. “Thus, the increase in use of some agents may reflect the growing need for treatment of complications associated with the increase in overweight and obesity,” the authors wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study found prescription drug use rose significantly among adults ages 40 to 64, and among those 65 and older. Rates did not rise among adults 20 to 39.
Use of sex hormones among women dipped from 19 percent to 11 percent, a change largely driven by the decrease in use of hormones to treat menopause. The study found the use of antibiotics decreased from 5.7 percent to 4.2 percent.