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Blood pressure pills can increase the risk of falls

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Medications used to control blood pressure can increase the risk of injury from serious fall by 30 to 40 per cent, according to a study by Yale School of Medicine. These injuries could have a similar effect on mortality and functional loss as the strokes and heart attack that the blood pressure pills are supposed to prevent.

The observational study looked at 4961 patients older than 70, with hypertension. The link between blood pressure medicine use and serious injuries such as hip fractures and head injuries from falls was examined. Among the participants, 14 per cent did not take any blood pressure medication, 55 per cent took moderate medication and 31 per cent were on a high dose.

The research team found that during a three-year follow up of these patients that nine per cent experienced serious injury from falls. The risk for serious injuries from falls was found to be higher for patients who used blood pressure medication than for non-users, and even higher for those who had experienced a previous fall injury.

‘Although no single study can settle the question and we cannot exclude the possibility that factors other than the medications accounted for the increased risk of injury, these medications may be more harmful in some individuals than thought,' said lead author Dr. Mary E. Tinetti, the Gladys Philips Crofoot Professor of Medicine and Public Health and chief of the Section of Geriatrics at Yale School of Medicine.

‘Older patients and their clinicians need to weigh the harms as well as the benefits in prescribing medications, particularly when the harms may be at least as serious as the diseases and events we hope the medications prevent,' said Dr Tinetti. ‘Patients may find themselves in the tough position of either choosing to continue their blood pressure medication and risk side effects that could lead to life-altering falls, or discontinuing their medications and risk heart attacks and stroke.'

The study was published in the 24 Feb issue of JAMA Internal Medicine and was funded by the National Institute on Aging and can be found here http://media.jamanetwork.com/news-item/medication-to-treat-high-blood-pressure-associated-with-fall-injuries-in-elderly/

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