Younger Adults on Multiple Meds at Risk for Falls: Study

Injury risk was doubled compared to those with fewer prescriptions

TUESDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Young and middle-aged adults who take two or more prescription drugs at any one time may be at increased risk for accidental falls, a new study finds.

The effect is similar to that seen in elderly people, according to the report published online Jan. 17 in the journal Injury Prevention.

In the study, the researchers looked at data from 344 working-age people who died or required hospital admission within 48 hours of an accidental fall at home in Auckland, New Zealand, between 2005 and 2006. They were compared with 352 randomly selected age-matched people in the general population.

The investigators found that people who took two or more prescription drugs were 2.5 times more likely to suffer an injury in an accidental fall than those who took one or no medicine.

The findings held true even after accounting for personal, social and lifestyle factors such as drinking, illicit drug use and amount of sleep, said Dr. Bridget Kool of the University of Auckland and colleagues.

The study also found that taking drugs to lower blood pressure and cholesterol appeared to triple the risk of a fall. Asthma inhalers, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids and antidepressants did not increase the risk of a fall.

Whether the increased risk of falls associated with certain drugs were a result of the drugs themselves or the underlying conditions they were being used to treat is unclear, the researchers said.

Falls are a leading cause of injury and death worldwide, but most research focuses on older adults and children.

"The findings signal a need for greater awareness of the association between prescription medications and falls in younger adults, whether this is due to the medications, underlying conditions or a combination of both related factors," the study authors concluded in a journal news release.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers guidelines for preventing falls.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Injury Prevention, news release, Jan. 16, 2012

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