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Adults Taking Prescription Medicines Prone to Experiencing Serious Falls

In Health
July 23, 2019

While medications might seem normal in adults, a new study has shed light on another aspect of taking medicines. Adults consuming several prescription drugs are prone to experiencing serious falls, the study states.

This elevated risk can affect middle-aged individuals around the age of 50, a population not typically viewed as vulnerable to debilitating or fatal falls, the researchers said. To identify the factors that put adults at an elevated risk of serious falls, researchers analysed 13,000 fall cases and compared them to controls of similar age, race, sex, and HIV status.

The fall risk factors included prescription medication use, and alcohol and illegal drug use. The findings of the study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (JAIDS), state that falls were a severe problem for middle-aged patients.

“Providers typically think about falls in people over age 65. But these people were primarily in their 50s and falls were an important concern,” said Julie Womack, lead author of the study. The study also noted that the simultaneous use of multiple medications, known as polypharmacy, plays a significant role in serious falls among patients who are HIV positive and those who are not.

Medications that were associated with serious falls included those commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia (benzodiazepines), as well as muscle relaxants and prescription opioids. The study suggests that programs designed to prevent serious falls in older adults may need to be modified to address risks for middle-aged adults too.

“Fall risk factors are highly prevalent in the Baby Boomer generation more generally. The next step is to look at interventions for the middle-aged,” said Womack. According to the researchers, reducing the number of falls in middle-aged and older adults is necessary because these falls contribute to increased risk of injuries, hospitalizations, and death.