Antidepressants carry much higher fall risk than antipsychotics, study finds

Nursing home residents with dementia who take antidepressants are at significantly higher risk of falls and fractures than those on antipsychotics, new research shows.
Nursing home residents with dementia who take antidepressants are at significantly higher risk of falls and fractures than those on antipsychotics, new research shows.

Nursing home residents with dementia who take antidepressants are at significantly higher risk of falls and fractures than those on antipsychotics, new research shows.

Researchers used Medicare claims data from 2007 to 2009 to analyze the link between residents who displayed moderate-to-severe symptoms of dementia and received antidepressants and antipsychotic medications, and those who suffered falls or fractures during that timeframe.

The results, published online on Tuesday in the Journal of Gerontology — Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences showed the antidepressant group had a “significantly” higher risk for fractures, with a hazard ratio of 1.35. A similar trend was seen for falls, with the group taking antidepressants showing a 1.16 hazard ratio.

Those results should encourage clinicians to assess the risks and benefits of antidepressants in residents with symptoms of dementia, “especially in light of the increasingly prevalent use of these agents,” the study's authors said. The research team included pharmacy and behavioral health experts from the University of Maryland, the University of Florida and Seton Hall University.

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