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17-01-2012 | Article

Prescription drugs fall link in younger adults


Injury Prevention

2012; Advance online publication

Investigators warn that use of multiple prescription drugs puts younger, working-aged adults, as well as older people, at increased risk of injury from falling.

They report finding a 2.5-fold increased risk of fall injury among young and middle-aged people who were taking two or more prescription medications, relative to those using one or no prescription drugs.

The data suggested that antihypertensives and lipid-lowering medications are particularly risky, but the authors were not able to determine if the effects related to the drugs or the underlying conditions.

The population-based, case-control study of people aged 25-60 years in New Zealand included 335 people who had died or been admitted to hospital as a result of a fall at home, and 352 randomly selected control individuals.

The association between fall injury and taking two or more prescription drugs was seen after controlling for demographic, personal and lifestyle factors. Of six medication groups with enough data for analysis, antihypertensive and lipid-lowering drugs were associated with 3.1- and 2.5-fold increased risks of falls, respectively, whereas bronchodilators, anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids and psychotropics were not associated with fall risk.

Dr Bridget Kool and colleagues from University of Auckland conclude in the journal Injury Prevention that the study reveals "a largely unrecognised problem among this younger age group", and signals a need for greater awareness of the association, whether due to the medications, underlying conditions, or a combination of both.

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price