Falls risk doubles for middle-aged adults taking two drugs

Taking two medicines at the same time doubles working-age adults' risk of falling, New Zealand researchers have found.

Prevention needs to tackle this ‘largely unrecognised’ problem, Dr Bridget Kool and colleagues from the University of Auckland argue.

The researchers studied data from 335 people aged 25 to 60 who had died or been admitted to hospital as the result of falls.

This group was matched with data from 352 controls randomly selected from the electoral role. The median ages of the study and control groups were 47 and 44 years, respectively.

Among the study group, 9.3% of patients were taking at least two medicines, while among the control group, 5.4% were taking this many medicines.

After controlling for demographic, personal and lifestyle factors, use of two or more medicines was associated with a 2.5-fold increase in the risk of injury from falls.

Drugs for hypertension and lipid-lowering were those most commonly associated with an increased risk of falls, Dr Kool and her team found.

The researchers said the impact of medicine use needed to be separated out from the risks associated with the conditions for which the treatments were prescribed.

They also argued that research should explore the relationship between multiple medicine use and other risk factors, such as alcohol use, fatigue and shift work.

Commenting on the findings, the researchers said: ‘The association between prescription medications and fall-related injuries revealed a largely unrecognised problem among this younger age group.’

They added: ‘The findings signal a need for greater awareness of the association between prescription medications and falls in younger adults, whether this is due to the medications, underlying conditions or a combination of both related factors.’


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