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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2007 Oct;62(10):1172-81.

Medication as a risk factor for falls: critical systematic review.

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School of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, Department of Geriatrics, University of Kuopio, Finland.



Falls in older people are associated with poor prognosis. Medication use is a potential cause of falls. Our aim was to systemically review all original articles examining medication use as a risk factor for falls or fall-related fractures in people aged >/=60 years.


We searched English articles in Medline (1996-2004) indexed under "falls" or "accidental falls" and "pharmaceutical preparations" or specific groups of drugs. We excluded studies not meeting the age criterion, not controlled with nonusers of target medicines or nonfallers, or with no clear definition of target medication.


Twenty-eight observational studies and one randomized controlled trial met the inclusion criteria. The number of participants ranged from 70 to 132,873. The outcome measure was a fall in 22 studies and a fracture in 7 studies. The main group of drugs associated with an increased risk of falling was psychotropics: benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and antipsychotics. Antiepileptics and drugs that lower blood pressure were weakly associated with falls.


Central nervous system drugs, especially psychotropics, seem to be associated with an increased risk of falls. The quality of observational studies needs to be improved, for many appear to lack even a clear definition of a fall, target medicines, or prospective follow-up. Many drugs commonly used by older persons are not systematically studied as risk factors for falls.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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