Elderly patients who start taking blood pressure medication or change their prescription or dosage have a temporarily increased risk of serious fall-related injury. The findings, published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, included more than 90,000 patients in the United States aged 65 years and older.
Between 2007 and 2012, researchers found that 272 of the patients began taking drugs for high blood pressure, 1,508 added a new drug to their existing blood pressure regimen, and 3,113 had the dose of at least one blood pressure drug increased. The likelihood of a serious fall-related injury went up 36% for patients starting a medication regimen, 16% for patients adding a new drug and 13% for patients increasing a dose.
This increased risk dissipated after two weeks following the medication changes. The authors of the study stressed that, due to its observational nature, the research could only show an association between medication changes and fall risk, not determine cause and effect. However, it identifies a time period during which elderly patients may need closer monitoring for short-term side effects.