The findings published in Injury Prevention this week looked at the association between prescription medications and falls among people aged between 20 and 60 years who died or required admission to hospital within 48 hours of an unintentional fall at home in Auckland between 2005 and 2006.
Data showed that taking two or more of some prescription drugs at the same time doubled the unintentional fall rate at home for the young and middle aged, similar to the effect seen in elderly people. However, it was not possible to determine from the research if the risk related to the medication themselves, or the underlying medical conditions.
Medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol were most commonly involved in higher rates of unintentional falls. People taking two or more of these prescription drugs were 2.5 times as likely to sustain an injury as a result of an unintentional fall as those on fewer.
The findings held true, even after taking account of personal, social, and lifestyle factors, including hazardous drinking, illicit drug use, and sleep duration in the previous 24 hours.
No increased risk was found for asthma inhalers, anti-inflammatories, steroids, or antidepressants.
Lead researcher Post Doctoral Fellow Bridget Kool says: “This research has revealed a largely unrecognised problem among younger people. Our findings signal a need for greater awareness of the association between prescription medications and falls in younger adults.”