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News2015July › Drugs double the risk of a serious fall in the elderly › July 2015

Drugs double the risk of a serious fall in the elderly

We've said for years that many conditions normally associated with ageing are, in fact, reactions to drugs that the elderly are routinely given

We've said for years that many conditions normally associated with ageing are, in fact, reactions to drugs that the elderly are routinely given. And new research backs this up: elderly patients who are given common drugs for insomnia, respiratory problems and bladder conditions are twice as likely to suffer a serious fall.

The drugs have what is known as anti-cholinergic effects, which means they block acetylcholine, a chemical in the brain, and that can lead to blurred vision, increased heart rate, sedation and confusion.

As a result, people over the age of 65 who are regularly taking a drug with anti-cholinergic properties are more than twice as likely to suffer a serious fall that results in injury.

The drugs are routinely given to treat bladder problems, depression, psychosis, insomnia and respiratory conditions, say researchers from Trinity College Dublin.

(Source: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2015; doi; 10.1111/jgs.13543)


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