NPS Direct – February 2014

Published in NPS Direct

Date published: About this date

Image of vitamin D capsules

Vitamin D: cause or effect?

Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to an ever-growing list of conditions. However, correcting vitamin D levels through supplementation has failed to show any meaningful benefit. Is low vitamin D a cause or an effect of poor health and what does this mean for your patients?

Image of odler woman

Anticholinergics in older people: do you know the risks?

A recent study has shown that the use of anticholinergic and sedative medicines increases the likelihood of hospitalisation and mortality in people with Alzheimer's disease — and in people without it. How does this affect prescribing for older patients?

Image of travellers with bags in tow

Superbug stowaways: multi-drug-resistant bacteria hitch a ride with travellers

Bacterial strains resistant to multiple antibiotics are a significant problem in Australia, and infections inadvertently imported by travellers have an increasingly important role to play. Leisure travel, human migration and the rise of the medical tourism industry have all contributed to intercountry transfer of resistant superbugs, particularly among people using hospitals overseas. So how can you protect patients who travel?


Image Medicinewise News, February 2014

Latest Medicinewise News — Heart and stroke risk: a catalyst for conversation

Despite recent media controversy, statins remain one of the most effective strategies for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), but appropriate patient selection is key. Guidelines recommend basing lipid management on absolute CVD risk. However, more than 10 years on since the introduction of these recommendations, statin prescribing does not always reflect a patient's need based on absolute risk.


Fast five — Cardiovascular health


Medicinewise News — Good anticoagulant practice

All oral anticoagulants require careful patient selection and routine clinical monitoring to minimise the risk of thrombosis and bleeding. Read about assessment and management of patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) based on stroke risk, and the roles of warfarin and the newer oral anticoagulants in individualised treatment.


Decision tool — Starting oral anticoagulants in AF

Use this tool to identify patients with non-valvular AF for whom treatment with anticoagulants is recommended, and to personalise the selection of an oral anticoagulant in three easy steps.


Online resource — Assess absolute cardiovascular risk

Multiple lifestyle risk factors contribute to a person developing CVD, including lipid abnormalities, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, abdominal obesity, psychosocial factors, physical inactivity and poor diet. Use this simple guide to support your assessment of patients’ absolute cardiovascular risk.


Consultation snapshot — Using statins in an older patient

The consultation snapshot series provides practical, evidence-based solutions to challenging clinical problems. The first in the series focuses on the use of statins in an older patient who is also taking several medicines for different conditions.


Information for patients — Statins and cardiovascular disease FAQs

Following recent media interest in the use of statins in Australia, many health professionals have reported a rise in patient queries about their cardiovascular medicines. This list of commonly asked questions provides accurate, patient-friendly information about the role of statins in heart health.


Image of smartphone showing new MedicineList+ app

New MedicineList+ app now available for your patients

MedicineList+ is a free app for both Android and iOS devices. It is designed to help your patients or their carers know about and manage their medicines, as well as record important health information* including medical test data.

The app also has the ability to store multiple people's medicine profiles, making it particularly handy for parents and carers of older family members.

When patients share the information with you, you'll gain a more complete picture of what's happening with their health outside of your healthcare setting.

*All patient information stored locally on the app and not shared with NPS MedicineWise or publicly.


CPD activities

New Clinical e-audit: Medicines in older people — review and rationalise

Older people experience a disproportionate number of medicine-related adverse events. This activity will assist GPs to review their medicine management of patients aged ≥ 75 years using five or more medicines and prescribed at least one of the following:
  • an antipsychotic medicine for behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia OR
  • a benzodiazepine for insomnia OR
  • an opioid for chronic non-cancer pain.

Recognised for QPI PIP. CPD accreditation pending for 2014–2016 triennium.

Pharmacy Practice Review: reventing medicines-related problems in older people

Around one in three unplanned hospital admissions involving older Australians is due to problems with medicines — half of which could be prevented. Consider principles for medicine use in older people when reviewing medicines and be able to recommend strategies to minimise risk of medicines-related problems. Earn 8 hours of Group 2 CPD or 16 CPD credits.


National Medicines Symposium 2014 

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Image credits:
Vitamin D: Natali Zakharova/
Anticholinergics in older people: Kristo-Gothard
Superbug stowaways: Artens/