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Drugs Pose Risk Of Falling Among Elderly

August 7, 2009

Certain types of medications given to the elderly could add to their risk of falling, according to a new study.

Researchers in France conducted a 4-year study of 6343 elderly men and women who were taking an anti-anxiety drug. Participants had an average age of 74 years.

“Falls and associated injuries remain a major public health problem,” researchers wrote.  “With little evidence that deaths and serious injuries from falls are declining, despite a strong focus in research and practice over the past 15 years.”

They noted that participants who were taking the benzodiazepine had 1.4 times the risk of falling than elderly men and women who were not using the drug.

Writing in the journal BMC Geriatrics, Dr. Annick Alperovitch and a team of researchers from INSERM in Paris, found that elderly men and women taking psychotropic drugs also had an increased risk of falling.

They defined “inappropriate medication” as those that have a greater effect on elderly patients than younger ones.

Thirty percent of participants reported using the drugs during the study, and 22 percent of those reported falling at least twice.

But they placed emphasis on their finding related to long-acting benzodiazepines as the drug with the largest impact on the number of spills.

“Use of inappropriate medications increased the risk of falls,” they report, and use of long-acting benzodiazepines “was responsible for the main part of this increase,” Reuters quoted researchers.

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