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Elderly Falls: Prescription Drugs to Blame?

Rise in Antidepressant, Sedative Use Linked to Elderly Falls

On the heels of the discovery that one in every seven elderly filled an antidepressant prescription last year, researchers say antidepressants, sedatives lead to an increased incidence of falls.

On the heels of the discovery that one in every seven elderly filled an antidepressant prescription last year, researchers say antidepressants, sedatives lead to an increased incidence of falls.

Earlier this year, I wrote about a study from New Zealand that talked about how regular exercise among senior citizens worked wonders in preventing them from falling—the fifth leading cause of death in the developed world, believe it or not.

Here’s a study that talks about what often causes senior citizens to fall.  And the culprits just happen to be the bane of my existence:  prescription drugs, especially mood-altering prescription drugs and sleep aides.

That the study pinpointed mood-altering drugs (like anti-depressants) and sleeping pills (both over the counter and prescription) is significant because the study analyzed the reported side effects of several different classes of drugs, including (but not limited to) blood pressure medications, pain killers, diuretics, beta-blockers, and over-the-counter pain medications like aspirin and ibuprofen.   They then analyzed the occurrence of reported falls among 79,000 study participants over the age of 60 over an 11-year period and whether or not they took these drugs.

Among the nine different classes of drugs assessed, they did not find statistically significant evidence for their being linked to the elderly participants’ falls in the majority of cases.  But when they looked at sedatives, antipsychotics, and antidepressants—the side effects of which almost always include increased grogginess and drowsiness—they did find “statistically significant evidence” that there were more cases of falls when people were on these drugs.

While more research needs to be done before the University of British Columbia researchers can say definitively that it’s the drowsiness side effect that’s to blame, they really think that that’s the chief reason.  Drowsiness, obviously, leads people to be unsteady on their feet, but especially in the elderly.  As lead author and investigator Carlo Marra believes, the elderly aren’t able to metabolize these drugs in quite the same way as those younger than them, thus are even more susceptible to prescription drugs’ side effects.

The study is published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Given how many elderly people take prescription drugs in the country—an estimated one in every seven octogenarians (i.e. someone in their eighties) filled an antidepressant prescription last year—this finding is enormously significant.  And while it may not necessarily be the chief reason for why falls are the fifth leading cause of death in the developed world for the elderly, it’s at least partly the reason.  And “partly” is enough to be wholly concerned.

Fortunately, there are natural alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can boost your mood or help you sleep.  Check out my article on the best foods for sleep, and for mood, the best supplements and activities you can do.

Source:
sciencedaily.com

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  5. Deathly Consequences of Epilepsy Drugs
  


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