Anti-depressants linked to fatal fall injuries

Toronto, Nov 24 ( Anti-depressants are linked to fall-related complications like hip fracture among elderly people, says a Canadian study.

Falling and fall-related complications such as hip fractures are the fifth leading cause of death, says the study at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

The study, which was published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, says anti-depressants showed the strongest statistical links with falling, possibly because of their sedative properties.

It said falls are deeply associated with several classes of drugs, including sedatives often prescribed as sleep aids and medications used to treat mood disorders.

Anti-psychotic neuroleptics often used to treat schizophrenia and other psychoses and benzodiazepines such as valium are also linked with falls, according to the study.

“These findings reinforce the need for judicious use of medications in elderly people at risk of falling,” said lead investigator Carlo Marra, an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the university.

“Safer alternatives, such as counselling, shorter-term or less-sedating therapies, may be more appropriate for certain conditions,” he said.

The Canadian researcher said: “Elderly people may be more sensitive to drugs’ effects and less efficient at metabolising medications, leading to adverse events, which in turn lead to falls.”

The study examined the effects of nine classes of drugs. It updated, expanded and analysed 22 international observational studies from 1996 to 2007 investigating falls among people aged 60 years or older, a university statement said.

The analysis included data on more than 79,000 participants and both prescription and over-the-counter medications.