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Why Do 50% of Brits Now Take Prescription Medications?

Posted in General Health 13 Jan, 2015

According to a new report released by Health Survey for England 2013, about 50% of British women and 43% of men are taking prescription drugs regularly. Some of the most popular prescription drugs include anti-depressants, pain relief and cholesterol-lowering statins.

Figures from the report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show that nearly a third of the prescriptions are for cardiovascular disease, while more than 65 million prescriptions have been given for high cholesterol, heart failure and high blood pressure.

According to HSCIC, in 2013, 18.7 prescriptions per person were given out in England and these figures cost the NHS in excess of £15 billion a year.

Why are so many prescriptions issued?

One reason for this increase could be that more people are leading sedentary lives, causing them to become overweight or obese. Those who are overweight are more likely to need prescription drugs due to the associated health risks, such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Lifestyle factors such as overeating, lack of exercise, smoking or drinking all play a part in causing poor health.

Are doctors prescribing medications instead of giving patients valuable advice to make lasting changes to their overall health? Possibly, and one of the reasons for this is that many people who are overweight or in poor health are not willing to make lifestyle changes, believing that it’s too difficult or too late to make a difference either way. We have become accustomed to a ‘quick fix’ culture, and many patients who visit a doctor expect an instant solution to their health problems, but are not willing to take action themselves.

Is this a good thing?

It could be argued that now that we are able to treat certain health risks, we should do so, and in many cases that is what is happening. In the past, high cholesterol or high blood pressure was left untreated and eventually led to a stroke or heart attack. Today, some experts call for statins to be routinely prescribed to anyone at risk, even if they are not yet showing symptoms.

The positive side of taking prescription drugs is that they can provide safe and temporary relief for the symptoms associated with various health conditions. If you’re suffering or are in pain, then prescription drugs are an effective way of managing symptoms so you can maintain a certain level of health. For example, cholesterol lowering drugs will reduce a patient’s risk of a heart attack. Other treatments can ease anxiety seemingly instantaneously, where previous measures have failed. Antidepressants, for example, are commonly taken for various mental health conditions, with 1 in 10 women making use of this treatment.

People with health issues that affect their immediate circumstances, or that could otherwise prevent them from working, may find prescription medications help them to get through the day. While these treatments may not be ideal for everyone, they do make the days more bearable for those who struggle with mental or physical health conditions that affect their everyday activities.

The majority of health conditions can be improved through making healthy lifestyle choices, such as changing your diet and partaking in exercise. However, prescription medications are sometimes a necessity for overall health maintenance.


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