Shape of heart made of pillsAs far as modern medicine has progressed, about fifty percent of patients still avoid taking their prescribed medications. Why? One reason is that many patients are nervous about negative side effects. Some side effects, however, aren’t so bad at all. From time to time, researchers discover that a prescription provides health benefits unrelated to the condition it is designed to treat. Perhaps some of your own medications are boosting your health in ways you wouldn’t expect!

1. The Flu Shot

Every year, people line up to get a flu shot and avoid becoming miserably bed-ridden with dreadful symptoms. This annual tradition has a surprising twist, however. By preventing the flu, you’re also decreasing your risk of heart disease and stroke by up to 48%. During a flu infection, the body fends off the illness with an inflammatory response that may cause arterial plaque to rupture. Because the flu shot blocks both the infection and the inflammatory response, it also reduces risk of a cardiac mishap.

2. Dopamine Agonists Used to Treat Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by tremors, muscle stiffness, and the loss of fine motor skills. To alleviate these symptoms, doctors prescribe dopamine agonists that help to bring fine motor skills closer to ordinary levels. Dopamine, however, can produce some other interesting results in the body. This neurotransmitter stimulates creativity, causing some Parkinson’s patients to develop extraordinary new artistic abilities such as painting and writing. These abilities typically fade at the conclusion of dopamine treatment, however.

3. Beta-Blockers Used to Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure lowers the amount of blood that reaches the brain, resulting in an increased chance of developing dementia. High blood pressure patients who use beta-blocker medications have half as many vascular brain lesions and about forty percent fewer Alzheimer’s disease lesions than patients not on beta-blockers. How do beta-blockers accomplish this? This medication lowers pulse rate and increases blood flow, reducing stress on blood vessels in the brain.

4. Aspirin Regimens Used to Prevent Heart Attacks

Everyone has seen the aspirin commercials showing how this drug can be used to lower risk of heart attacks. That’s not all aspirin can do, however. Taking aspirin daily can also increase your chance of surviving colon or prostate cancer. Prostate cancer patients on a daily aspirin regimen have a 57% lower risk of death at 10 years than men not on an aspirin regimen. Similarly, colon cancer patients on an aspirin regimen have a five-year mortality rate 23% lower than patients not on an aspirin regimen.

5. Metformin Used to Treat Diabetes

Metformin is a drug that is used to help treat diabetes by making the body more sensitive to insulin levels and slowing the liver’s production of sugars. This lowers the body’s blood sugar levels. This is good news because studies show that high insulin levels may energize cancer cells. In 2012, multiple medical studies showed that metformin lowered patients’ risk of breast cancer by 17%. Women who took the prescription for at least three years had a 25% lower risk of breast cancer.

If you’re hesitant about taking your medications, it’s always best to consult your physician before making any rash decisions. Your prescriptions may actually produce some very positive side effects, but more importantly, they’re designed to help you get healthy and feel better. Avoiding medications may help you avoid side effects, but it won’t keep your condition from worsening.

Source: AARP Health