The percentage of adults, 65 and older, who were prescribed a ‘fall- risk-increasing drug climbed to 94 percent in 2017, a significant leap from 57 percent in 1999, suggests a study. The study, published in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, also revealed that the rate of death caused by falls in older adults more than doubled during the same time period.
“Our study indicates two trends increasing concurrently at a population level that should be examined at the individual level. Our hope is it will start more conversations on health care teams about the pros and cons of medications prescribed for vulnerable populations,” said researcher Amy Shaver from the University at Buffalo.
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The researchers said that even minor falls may be dangerous for older adults. Falls that are not fatal can still result in injuries — such as hip fractures and head traumas — that may drastically lower the remaining quality of life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year in the US, nearly $50 billion is spent on medical costs related to fall injuries among older adults.
For the study, the research team examined data on deaths due to falls and prescription fills among people 65 and older. Fall-risk-increasing drugs include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, antihypertensives (for high blood pressure), opioids, sedative-hypnotics, and benzodiazepines (tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax), as well as other nonprescription medications.
From 1999-2017, more than 7.8 billion fall-risk-increasing drug orders were filled by older adults in the US. The majority of the prescriptions were for antihypertensives. However, there was also a sharp rise in the use of antidepressants, from 12 million prescriptions in 1999 to more than 52 million in 2017. Women were also found more likely than men to be prescribed fall-risk-increasing drugs, the study indicated. (IANS/SP)