November 13, 2018
Prescription Medications and Falls
Wellness Tip

Prescription Medications and Falls

by Berkeley Wellness  

Older people who take antidepressants, sleeping pills, or anti-anxiety medication are at elevated risk for fractures and should discuss fall-prevention measures with their doctors.

In a recent study in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, researchers analyzed blood samples from 250 Norwegians (average age 84) hospitalized for hip fractures and found that two-thirds were taking prescription antidepressants or benzodiazepines (pre­scribed for anxiety or insomnia). They were more than twice as likely to be taking such drugs than people their age in the general population. Alcohol was found in only 8 percent of them, a lower proportion than previous studies on hip fracture patients.

The mechanism by which antidepressants, in particular, increase the risk of falls and fractures is unclear, the researchers stated.

In general, anti-anxiety or sleeping pills should be used only occasionally and short term, if at all, in older people—at most for a week or two. The American Geriatrics Society advises doctors, “Don’t use benzodiazepines or other sedative-hypnotics in older adults as first choice for insomnia, agitation, or delirium.”

Also see The Risks of Anti-Anxiety and Sleeping Pills.