One in three Greeks takes medication on daily basis

Most Greeks do not take care of their health, do not eat properly, drink and smoke too much, avoid exercise and then resort to medication to rectify the inevitable problems, according to a survey by the National School of Public Health showing that 36.7 percent of Greeks are on some form of daily medication. The survey, carried out among a sample of 4,000 individuals by the school’s Health Economics Department headed by Professor Yiannis Kyriopoulos, found that the consumption of medicines and the deterioration of people’s health was due to a combination of factors such as age, sex, lifestyle, educational level and income. These factors may explain why only 9.5 percent of young people aged 16-25 take medication regularly, as opposed to nearly everyone (82.7 percent) over 76 years of age. In the case of intermediate age groups, the consumption of pharmaceuticals rises steadily with age. One in four people aged 35-45 take them on a daily basis, compared to 38.1 percent of the 46-55 age group, 59.7 percent of those aged 56-65 and 78.4 percent of those aged 66 to 75. Women, who according to the survey suffer more from stress and depression, generally take more medication than men (40.7 percent of women compared to 32.4 percent of men in Greece). However, more men than women suffer from cardiovascular disease, reported as a medical condition by over half of those polled, of whom 59 percent were men and 45.6 percent women. Next on the list of most frequent medical conditions were endocrinal problems (25.9 percent), orthopedic (15.9 percent), thoracic (9.4 percent), gastroenterological and liver (5 percent). The quantity of pharmaceutical drugs consumed in Greece has risen dramatically over the past decade to the point where consumption is now equivalent to about 45 different preparations per person annually. Medicines appear to be playing an increasingly important role in treatment. In 2002, 327 new drugs worth a total 66 million euros were imported to the Greek market. However, the discovery of new drugs has not necessarily led to the abandonment of old methods, which continue to be used in combination with more recent medication that often reduces the duration of hospitalization. Although medication remains the cheapest form of treatment – according to the National Statistical Service, it still has a lower price index than all other products in the health system – expenditure on medication in Europe is increasing at a faster rate than total outlay on health because of the replacement of older drugs by newer, more expensive ones, but also because of an increase in consumption. The survey also found that the use of medications is directly linked to people’s socioeconomic level. The higher an individual’s education and family income, the greater the likelihood that the person will not be taking medication. While 62.9 percent of respondents with only primary education said they took medication daily, the corresponding figure among graduates of tertiary education was just 21.8 percent. The picture is much the same in the case of income brackets, with 71.6 percent of those earning less than 500 euros a month on daily medication, compared to 47.7 percent of those earning from 500 to 1,000 euros monthly and just 20.6 percent of those earning over 3,000 euros monthly. Consumption of medication is also linked to lifestyle factors, with 40.9 percent of respondents who said they never exercised taking medication either regularly or on a daily basis.

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