Would You Take a Pill to Extend Your Life Expectancy?

What would you do to lengthen your life? Eat only fruits and vegetables? Adopt a daily workout routine? Take prescription drugs every day?

Nearly one-third of adults would not be willing to take a daily pill for heart health, even if it meant extending their lives by weeks, months, or years, according to a new study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

A survey of 1,000 adults with an average age of 50 years revealed that the average individual would be willing to surrender 12.3 weeks of life in exchange for not having to take a daily heart pill. Eight percent of respondents were so against taking a drug every day that they would give up two years of life to avoid it.

Participants were instructed to disregard factors such as cost and side-effects when weighing the pros and cons of adding a prescription drug to their daily routine. Study authors wanted to assess a person’s willingness based on the inconvenience of taking a daily pill.

Most respondents (70 percent) were fine with taking a daily medication if it meant living a longer life.

The dangers of too many drugs

Almost half of all Americans are on at least one prescription medication, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while one in ten have taken at least five drugs in the last month. Most of the people who are on multiple medications are 65 years old and older.

For each added medication, the risks for dangerous interactions with other drugs and food increases.

“Polypharmacy is a huge problem in our society,” says Stephen Sinatra, MD, FACC, an internationally renowned cardiologist and author of, “The Great Cholesterol Myth.”

According to Sinatra, elderly patients are often put on five or more medications at once and it’s no surprise that they develop serious side effects. “Unfortunately,” he says, “many of the doctors attribute these side effects as just ‘getting older.’”

Prescribing heart medications is tricky

An elderly individual with heart failure is prescribed, on average, over a dozen different drugs, according to a recent analysis of Medicare data, conducted by Yale University professor, Harlan Krumholz.

Cardiologists put their patients on so many different medications because each drug performs a different, yet important function, according to Sinatra. One drug could be used to treat high cholesterol, another to stabilize blood sugar, another to normalize blood pressure, and yet another to manage an irregular heart rhythm.

Sinatra feels that doctors are prescribing so many medications because they firmly believe in the benefits they provide; though he does admit that initial dosages of these drugs are often set way too high.

And, as with all drugs, heart medications carry their fair share of side effects. In addition to the increased risk of negative interactions with other prescriptions, Sinatra points out that the majority of heart medications can cause nutrient depletion.

Some medical experts have placed their faith in the concept of a “polypill” that combines multiple medications into one tablet, decreasing the chances that a patient will make a mistake while taking their medications, or forgo taking them altogether. A study presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2014 Congress found that patients were far more likely to stick to their medication regimen if they were taking one polypill (92%), as opposed to three different pills (84%).

Increased attention is also being paid to natural treatments for heart disease—diet, herbal medicine, stress management, etc.—and adopting a more holistic approach to handling heart disease.

What do you think? Would you take a pill a day for the rest of your life if it meant living longer?

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90 comments

Anteater Ants
Anteater Ants3 years ago

No, I wouldn't.

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Else G.
Else G3 years ago

Yes Diane W. it is pharmecutical pills. As for your statement that there are natural ways to have a healthy heart. Not always. I did and still do live a very healthy lifestyle but my whole family on my mothers side have heart problems. Right from my grandmother, my aunts, my grandmother only had girls,, and cousins both male and female, so in my case it genetic. Not from making bad life style choices
At 51 when it hit me I was not will to just "kick the bucket" without a fight. So I take pills.

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Mary B.
Mary B3 years ago

Is a longer life a better life?

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you

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Natasha Salgado
Past Member 3 years ago

I don't have a high opinion on meds don't take or need any at the moment but i'm still young so not sure as i age things creep up how i'd feel then...but still i prefer natural ways to aid in all that ails us. Besides all meds are tested on innocent animals which i've a huge problem with.

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heather g.
heather g3 years ago

Live life fully with exercise, fresh veggies and fruit, love in your heart and whichever supplements you need....
Of course, most of us would pop that pill if it made us feel better and live longer, unless you've decided to fade away and go to a better place.....

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Beverly S.
Beverly S3 years ago

My elderly parents take many, many prescribed drugs. My father now has an extremely low platelet count, which I think is a side effect of some or all of the drugs, yet his doctor considers it just old age and having "worn-out" bone marrow. So frustrating...

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Jane R.
Jane R3 years ago

This depends on a lot of things: Are you mentally sharp or do you have a form of dementia? Are you physically active (able to do things for yourself without help) or dependent on others?
If your mind is in good shape and you are able to care for yourself then I think it would be worthwhile.
If your quality of life is already very diminished, then no!

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Miriam O.

Thank you so much for sharing!

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