Common medications inflate risks for serious falls in older men, study shows

Older men taking a particular group of commonly used medications have a higher risk of getting injured from a fall, according to a study published in the latest Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Using data from the The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, scientists analyzed the types of medications the participants were taking compared to the types of falls they experienced. They concluded that men over 65 who took medicines with anticholinergic effects, which block the part of the brain that passes messages between nerve cells, were twice as likely to suffer serious falls.

Medicines that are commonly prescribed for older people for bladder problems, depression, psychosis, insomnia and respiratory problems have anticholinergic effects, and can cause blurred vision, increased heart rate, sedation and confusion.

Even with differences in health and other risk factors among patients, the effect remained the same, researchers said. While a greater use of the medicines put men at increased risk, there was no similar association for women, scientists found.