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Double dosage 'can raise risk of falls'

Published on 18 January 2012 11:00 AM

The likelihood of someone falling over is increased if they take two or more prescription drugs, according to a study.

This risk (of falling due to having taken two or more prescriptions drugs) is not linked to a person's age, researchers say, with both young and middle-aged people deemed to be at similar risk. However, falls generally pose a greater risk to older people than their younger counterparts (see below).

According to the study, the most likely drugs to cause a fall are said to be those which treat high levels of cholesterol and blood pressure.

Researchers admit, however, that people taking these two types of drug may also have underlying health problems which may add to the increased risk of falling over.

The study, carried out by staff at Auckland University in New Zealand, looked at the cases of 340 people who were admitted to hospital or who had died within 48 hours after a fall. They were compared with 350 randomly selected people.

The study findings, which appear in the Injury Prevention journal, read: 'Our findings suggest that young and middle-aged adults using two or more prescription medications are at 2.5 times increased odds of fall-related injury at home, compared with those on fewer or no medications.

'The findings suggest that, as in the case of older people, younger working-age adults who use multiple prescription medications are at increased risk of falls, an aspect that should be considered in falls-prevention programmes.'

Falls and older people

  • The risk of falling is generally much greater as we age because of the many different factors that can cause us to fall - for example, the natural deterioration of vision and muscle strength. For these reasons, it's important as we get older to reduce their risk of falling by having regular eye tests, and doing strength and balance exercises.
  • Falls are also significant for older people, because you're much more likely to fracture and injure yourself than when you're younger.
  • Any older person on four or more medicines should have regular reviews by their GP or pharmacist, as this can drastically increase the risk of a fall.
  • In addition to blood pressure tablets, some of the medicines that are often taken by older people that can cause dizziness and falls include antidepressants, tranquillizers and sleeping tablets. Older people on one or more of these medicines are advised to speak to their GP about the risk of falling.

Copyright Press Association 2012

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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