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EmpowHer's Health Tip: More Americans Taking Drugs for Chronic Health Problems

A new study suggests that more than half of all insured Americans regularly take prescription drugs to treat chronic health problems, with drugs to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol the most widely used, the Associated Press reported.

The Medco Health Solutions Inc. analysis of prescription records from 2001 to 2007 revealed that 51 percent of American adults and children were taking one or more prescription drugs for a chronic condition in 2007, compared to 50 percent in 2006, and 47 percent in 2001.

Regular use of medications to treat chronic health problems occurred in all demographic groups:

* Three out of four people 65 or older.
* Almost two-thirds of women 20 or older.
* 52 percent of adult men.
* One in four children and teenagers.

The study found that among older Americans, 28 percent of women and nearly 22 percent of men take five or more medicines on a regular basis, the AP reported.

Medco manages prescription benefits for about one in five Americans.

Experts said the study findings reflect both worsening public health and better medicines for chronic conditions and more aggressive treatment by doctors, the AP reported.