Drugs & Aging

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 247–254

Association Between Prescribing of Cardiovascular and Psychotropic Medications and Hospital Admission for Falls or Fractures

  • Rupert A. Payne
  • Gary A. Abel
  • Colin R. Simpson
  • Simon R. J. Maxwell
Original Research Article


Background and Objective

Falls are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly. This study examined the frequency of hospital admission for falls or fractures, and the association with a recent change in the use of cardiovascular and psychotropic medications.


We conducted a retrospective case-cohort study of 39,813 patients aged >65 years from 40 Scottish general practices. Data on current prescriptions, dates of drug changes (defined as increases in dose or starting new drugs), diagnoses and clinical measurements were extracted from primary care electronic records, linked to national hospital admissions data. Multivariable logistic regression was used to model the association of change in prescribing of cardiovascular or psychotropic medication with admission to hospital for falls or fractures in the following 60 days.


A total of 838 patients (2.1 %) were admitted in the 1-year study period. Following adjustment for factors including age, sex, socioeconomic deprivation, co-morbidity and current prescribing, changes in both cardiovascular and psychotropic medications were associated with subsequent admission for falls or fractures (odds ratio [OR] 1.54 [95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.17–2.03] and 1.68 [95 % CI 1.28–2.22], respectively). There was no evidence for a difference in the effect of change in medication for different cardiovascular drug types (p = 0.86), but there was evidence (p = 0.003) for variation in the association between change in different psychotropic medications and admission; the strongest associations were observed for changes in selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants (OR 1.99 [95 % CI 1.29–3.08]), non-SSRI/tricyclic antidepressants (OR 4.39 [95 % CI 2.21–8.71]) and combination psychotropic medication (OR 3.05 [95 % CI 1.66–5.63]).


Recent changes in psychotropic and cardiovascular medications are associated with a substantial increase in risk of hospital admission for falls and fractures. Caution should thus be taken when instigating prescribing changes in relation to these medicines, particularly in individuals already considered to be at high risk, such as those with multiple co-morbidities and the oldest old.

Supplementary material

40266_2013_58_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (89 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 89 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rupert A. Payne
    • 1
  • Gary A. Abel
    • 1
  • Colin R. Simpson
    • 2
  • Simon R. J. Maxwell
    • 3
  1. 1.Primary Care Unit, University of CambridgeInstitute of Public HealthCambridgeUK
  2. 2.eHealth Research Group, Centre for Population Health SciencesThe University of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  3. 3.Clinical Pharmacology UnitThe University of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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