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Drugs double the risk of a serious fall in the elderly

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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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