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Heart Failure and Diabetes Polypharmacy Case Study

LT is a 67-year-old white male presenting to your ambulatory care clinic for a CMR. He says his wife tells him he is taking too many medications and he wants your help evaluating his current regimen. According to his chart, his blood pressure has been within goal, but he has been having trouble with heart failure as of late and was recently hospitalized. In the last few months his blood sugars have been trending on the low end. His mood has been stable. He complains of regular loose stools over the last couple months and that in addition to his regular naproxen he has been needing his Advil PM more frequently. Lastly, he says he’s been seeing commercials for Entresto, what can you tell him about that?

PMH: HTN, HFrEF, DMII, Hyperlipidemia, GAD, PTSD, Open-angle glaucoma, Osteoarthritis, 

Knee replacement (6 mos ago)

Medications:

  • Lisinopril 20mg po qday (6 years)
  • Metoprolol Tartrate 50mg po bid (4 years)
  • Chlorthalidone 50mg po qday (6 years)
  • Cartia XT 240mg po qday (4 years)
  • Lasix 40mg po bid 8am and 2pm x 2 weeks (started 1 week ago)
  • Metformin 1000mg po bid (7 years)
  • Glipizide 10mg po qday (6 years)
  • Januvia 100mg po qday (1 years)
  • Atorvastatin 40mg po qhs (7 years)
  • Duloxetine 60mg po qday (9 years)
  • Latanoprost 0.005% i gtt ou qhs (3 years)
  • Docusate/senna 50/8.6 ii po qam (6 mos)
  • Miralax 1 capful mixed in 4-8 oz of water po qday (3 years)
  • Naproxen 220mg po bid
  • Advil PM 2 caplets po qhs prn
  • Hx of Norco 5/325 due to knee replacement. (Stopped 3 mos ago)
  • Vitamin D3 25mcg po qday (1 year was told by a friend to help prevent Covid)
  • Aspirin 81mg po qday (self-prescribed 2 years ago)

My first thought on this case study is always to try to address the patient’s concerns. The most pressing concern would likely be the loose stools. There are always numerous medications that can cause this issue so its important to recognize the timing of the loose stools and to try to correlate them together. While your eyes may easily key in on metformin as the cause of loose stools, it is critical to never overlook the obvious! He is actually taking laxatives so this needs to be addressed given that he is reporting loose stools. Believe it or not, I have seen this happen a fair number of times, and is one of the hidden Perils of Polypharmacy!

I would want to try to reduce the medication burden as that was also a request of the patient. Obviously, getting rid of the laxatives will help the loose stool and pill burden issue.

Another easy option and one that would be good for his heart failure is to address the duplicate NSAIDs (Naproxen and Advil PM). Cleaning up the diabetes regimen may also help reduce medications. An SGLT-2 inhibitor makes a good deal of sense given the heart failure history and diabetes. We would want to look at blood sugars and A1C of course, but ideally getting rid of Glipizide and possibly Januvia would be considerations.

If heart failure gets under control and we avoid provoking medications, we may be able to reduce the diuretic dosages. This would be another way to reduce pill burden.

Lastly, he did ask about Entresto, and given recent heart failure symptoms, it might be a good time to transition him off the ACE inhibitor. If a transition is made, it is critical to remember the washout period!

What else would you address in this situation?

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Written By Eric Christianson

September 15, 2021

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