Medication To Prevent Falls

From Sandra Hoban writing for LTL

Older adults are prescribed more medications and are at higher risk of falls, which can cause severe injury, disability and death.

A comprehensive study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm looked at data from 64,000 Swedes who were aged at least 65 years and were admitted to the hospital as the result of a fall. Seniors take several drugs with the potential for negative interactions that can trigger a fall.

Of the 20 medications studied, many are already known to present a risk of falls. The researchers’ analysis found that men and women taking opioids and men taking antidepressants were more than twice as likely to experience a fall injury than seniors not taking these medications.

Other medications that were linked to falls were drugs prescribed for ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease, vitamin B12 and some nonopioid pain medications. Estrogens and cardiovascular medications were not found to contribute to falls.

The researchers recommend further study to consider the potential for drug interactions, including over-the-counter medications, as contributors to fall risk.

Another study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, looked at medications used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) and found no relationship between the medications and falls and broken bones. Physicians and their patients worry that the blood pressure medications that are also used to prevent cardiovascular events, such as stroke, might put people at risk of low blood pressure (hypotension), which could lead to falls.

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