Polypharmacy and falls in the middle age and elderly population
Article first published online: 1 DEC 2005
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Volume 61, Issue 2, pages 218–223, February 2006
How to Cite
Ziere, G., Dieleman, J. P., Hofman, A., Pols, H. A. P., Van Der Cammen, T. J. M. and Stricker, B. H. CH. (2006), Polypharmacy and falls in the middle age and elderly population. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 61: 218–223. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2005.02543.x
- Issue published online: 1 DEC 2005
- Article first published online: 1 DEC 2005
- Received 18 January 2005 Accepted 27 September 2005
- risk drugs;
- geriatric medicine
Falls in the elderly are common and often serious. We studied the association between multiple drug use (polypharmacy) and falls in the elderly.
This was a population-based cross-sectional study, part of the Rotterdam Study. The participants were 6928 individuals aged ≥ 55 years. The prevalence of falls in the previous year was assessed. Medication use was determined with an interviewer-administered questionnaire with verification of use. Polypharmacy was defined as the use of four or more drugs per day.
The prevalence of falls strongly increased with age. Falls were more common in women than in men. Fall risk increased with increasing disability, presence of joint complaints, use of a walking aid and fracture history. The risk of falling increased significantly with the number of drugs used per day (P for trend < 0.0001). After adjustment for a large number of comorbid conditions and disability, polypharmacy remained a significant risk factor for falling. Stratification for polypharmacy with or without at least one drug which is known to increase fall risk (notably CNS drugs and diuretics) disclosed that only polypharmacy with at least one risk drug was associated with an increased risk of falling.
Fall risk is associated with the use of polypharmacy, but only when at least one established fall risk-increasing drug was part of the daily regimen.