Medication leading to increased fall rates
As is widely known, the risk of falling increases with age for a number of reasons, such as decrease in bone density and failure to exercise regularly resulting in decreased strength. But another reason, which is not as debated, is all the medication that elderly are prescribed, especially antidepressants that are commonly used when elderly are starting to worry about the future. As falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 or over and the fact that the majority of the lifetime cost of injury for people 65 or over can be attributed to falls, this is an important area of study.
Prior research indicates that there is a connection between medication with anti-depressive drugs and the risk of falling. This inspired scientists at Erasmus University in Rotterdam to investigate whether the connection between antidepressants and injurious falls is dose-dependent. A study involving 248 patients with dementia at a nursing home was conducted. Drug prescription and injurious falls were analysed during a period of two years and the results show a significant higher risk of falling for patients using SSRI, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, (a class of compounds typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders and some personality disorders). The higher the dose, the higher the risk of falling. A low dose (25% of the Defined Daily Dose) resulted in 31% higher risk of falling and a higher dose (100% of the Defined Daily Dose) tripled the risk of falling.
This study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, is the first one to quantify the contribution of SSRI to the risk of falling. The results indicate that even low doses of SSRI are associated with an increased risk of falling for patients suffering from dementia. This leads the scientist to suggest that new treatment protocols should be assumed.
Image source: http://www.arabstoday.net/en/2012011980618