Some drugs increase risk of falling

Jul 09, 2008

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have created a list of prescription drugs that increase the risk of falling for patients aged 65 and older who take four or more medications on a regular basis.

"Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for adults 65 and older, and research suggests that those taking four or more medications are at an even greater risk than those who don't – perhaps two to three times greater," said Susan Blalock, Ph.D., an associate professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

Blalock is the principal investigator of an ongoing study of a falls-prevention program she and fellow researchers developed for pharmacists to implement. Both the list of prescription drugs and some of the study's finding were published in the June issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy.

"What we've done as part of our study is to identify specific prescription drugs that are most likely to contribute to the falls," she said. The medications on the list cover a wide range of common prescription antidepressants, seizure medications, painkillers and more. The common denominator among them is that they all work to depress the central nervous system, which can make patients less alert and slower to react.

Stefanie Ferreri, Pharm.D., lead author of the paper and a clinical assistant professor in the pharmacy school, warns that patients need to be wary of more than just prescription medications, as many over-the-counter medications can also contribute to falls.

"Some allergy medications, sleep aids and some cold and cough remedies can have the same effects as prescription drugs," Ferreri said. "Always let your doctor know what over-the-counter medications you are taking and be sure to read the labels. Anything that can cause drowsiness can put you at increased risk of falling."

The researchers offered the following advice to patients and practitioners:

-- For Patients
If patients see a drug they are taking on the list, they should not stop taking it. Next time they see their doctor, talk about the risk of falling and possible alternative medications.

-- For Doctors
Physicians should look for medications that have been proven safe and effective in older adults and look for medicines that have less of a sedating effect. Physicians should be especially wary of anticholinergics, a class of drugs that affect nerve cells used to treat a wide range of conditions.

-- For Pharmacists
Pharmacists should be alert for patients 65 and older who are taking four or more drugs and be sure the patients know about the additional risk of falling created by their medications.

Source: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Explore further: More than a quarter of emergency contraceptives in Peru falsified or substandard

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wearable electronic skin delivers drugs and stores data

Apr 08, 2014

Average life expectancy has nearly doubled since 1800, thanks to progress in medicine. Most of that was made by developing drugs and improving public health services. The medical revolution of the 21st century ...

Gold nanorods attach to, kill bladder cancer cells

Apr 08, 2014

(Phys.org) —A major strategy of modern cancer research is to discover a difference between cancerous and healthy cells and then to specifically target this difference to kill cancer cells without harming ...

Recommended for you

Study recalculates costs of combination vaccines

Apr 17, 2014

One of the most popular vaccine brands for children may not be the most cost-effective choice. And doctors may be overlooking some cost factors when choosing vaccines, driving the market toward what is actually a more expensive ...

Drug watchdog urges vigilance in cancer drug theft

Apr 17, 2014

Europe's medicine watchdog urged doctors Thursday to be vigilant in administering the cancer drug Herceptin, vials of which had been stolen in Italy and tampered with before being sold back into the supply chain.

User comments : 0

More news stories

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...