Pay special attention to a quintet of drugs used by people with heart disease.
All medications, from alpha blockers to vitamins, have the potential to cause unwanted side effects. Usually, though, they don't, and their benefits far outweigh the chances of harm. But for a few medications, benefit and risk are so close together that the drugs are deemed "potentially inappropriate" for older people. A catalog of such drugs, called the Beers list, includes nearly 80 medications.
The handful of heart medicines on the Beers list includes amiodarone, nifedipine, and ticlopidine. Inclusion on the list doesn't mean a drug should never be used by an older person, just that it should be prescribed — and used — with extra care.