Chapter

Medication-Related Falls in Older People

pp 147-160

Date:

Antihypertensives and Cardiovascular Medications

  • Rebecca L. SalbuAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmacy Practice, Touro College of PharmacyMount Sinai Hospital Email author 
  • , Rosanne M. LeipzigAffiliated withBrookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • , Fred C. KoAffiliated withBrookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiGeriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC), James J. Peters VA Medical Center

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Abstract

The use of antihypertensive drugs in the elderly population places patients at an increased risk of adverse drug events in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. The setting of appropriate blood pressure goals and using antihypertensive medications is complex and no consensus exists. Hypertension treatment goals need to be individualized. Well-known trials have described the risks of falls and fall-related injuries in older adults taking antihypertensive medications. The results from these studies may not be directly applicable to the population of frail older patients. In three meta-analyses conducted in 1999, 2009, and 2013, there was no clear statistically significant evidence indicating that antihypertensive medications increase the risk of falls, but the clinician still needs to be aware of the impact of drug therapies and fall-related injuries. Although the adverse relationship between cardiovascular medications and falls and fall-related injuries in older adults is supported by high-quality and well-conducted observational studies, only thiazide diuretics have been singled out. The safe and effective use of cardiovascular medications in physically frail older patients requires deliberate and thoughtful considerations. Managing polypharmacy, performing medication reconciliation and review, and employing deprescribing strategies will result in an appropriate cardiovascular medication regimen while minimizing adverse effects and reducing the risk for falls in older patients.