Are your loved one's medications doing what they're supposed to do?

New research casts doubt on the effectiveness of two commonly-prescribed senior medications: beta blockers and anti-depressants.

Beta-blockers may not be beneficial

Often given to people with heart disease as well as those who have experienced cardiac events, such as a heart attack, beta blockers are a popular class of drug that can slow a person's heart rate, buffer against the harmful effects of adrenaline, and help prevent heart muscle damage.

In addition to treating some forms of heart disease, beta blockers can be used to handle a wide range of ailments, including: migraines, glaucoma and social anxiety.

According to researchers from the New York University School of Medicine, these medications may not always be helpful for seniors with heart problems. An analysis of over 26,000 people who had experienced a heart attack, or who had heart disease discovered that taking beta-blockers didn't decrease their risk of dying from a heart attack or a stroke.

In some instances, the drugs even appeared to increase a person's risk for complications (i.e. hospitalization, death) following a cardiac procedure.

Generics and brand names don't always match up

The only difference between brand-name drugs and their generic doppelgangers is the number on the price tag, right?

Not when it comes to popular anti-depressant, Wellbutrin, according to the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA).

Officials recently demanded the removal of Budeprion XL 300, a generic form of Wellbutrin, manufactured by Teva Pharmaceuticals, from pharmacy shelves after an FDA analysis discovered that the discounted drug wasn't as effective as its brand-name counterpart, and caused unsavory side effects such as anxiety, headaches and insomnia.

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Discuss drug fears with a doctor

The results of these studies don't mean that beta-blockers don't work and all generics are ineffective. They do however highlight some important considerations for people taking certain types of prescriptions.

It's never safe to stop taking a medication without consulting with a physician.

If you're concerned about the drugs prescribed to you or your loved one, talk to your doctor. He or she will be able to provide additional information about your specific situation and may suggest altering a drug regimen to ensure optimal effectiveness and safety.