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Can Blood Pressure Medicine Increase Your Risk of Falling?

There are many different ways to treat high blood pressure. Like so many other conditions, the best place to start is by eating healthy food and moving more. If this is not enough to lower your blood pressure, you might need to take medicine. Sometimes, more than one medicine will be needed to help your each your target blood pressure number.

Like all medicines, those used to lower blood pressure can have side effects. For example, some blood pressure medicines can make you feel lightheaded or dizzy. This could increase your risk of falling and hurting yourself.

In fact, the results of a recent study suggest that people who take blood pressure medicines are more likely to fall and get a serious injury, such as a broken bone, than people who don’t take them. How true are these results? Read on to find out.

The research

The study included about 5,000 adults over the age of 70. They were divided into 3 groups based on the amount (the dose or total number) of blood pressure medicines they took:

  1. None
  2. Moderate usage
  3. High usage

Everyone in the study was followed for 3 years. During this time, the researchers counted the number of times someone was seriously injured as a result of a fall. Serious injuries include things like broken bones, bleeding in the brain, or dislocated joints.

What the researchers wanted to know was whether people who took blood pressure medicines were more likely to fall and become injured than people who didn’t take them. They also wanted to know if people who took the most blood pressure medicines had the highest risk of falling.

The results

The results of the study found that there was no difference in the number of serious injuries from falls between people who took blood pressure medicines and people who didn’t take them. This was true even for those who took the most blood pressure medicines or the highest doses.

It’s important to know that this study looked at injuries that happened as a result of a fall, and not the actual number of times people fell. Both might be important, but this study only looked at the first one.

But I heard that the study had different results!

The truth is, this study had many problems. The researchers used very complicated math to try to overcome these problems. Even when they did this, they were only able to find a tiny increase in fall-related injuries in the moderate usage group. However, this single result is not enough to prove that taking blood pressure medicines leads to fall-related injuries.

What does this study mean for you?

Even though this study does not show that there is a link between blood pressure medicines and fall-related injuries, it does bring up an important point:all medicines have side effects and it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about these before you start taking them.

There is always a balance between the benefits of the medicines you take—such as lowering blood pressure—and the risk of side effects, like dizziness. You need to know what they are so you can tell your healthcare provider if you’re having them.

The take home points

  • High blood pressure is a common health problem for adults.
  • Treatment for high blood pressure includes improving diet, getting more exercise, and, sometimes, taking medicines.
  • All medicines, including those used to lower blood pressure, can have side effects.
  • There is no proof that taking medicines to lower your blood pressure increases your risk for fall-related injuries.
  • It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about the possible side effects of any medicines you take. Be sure to let him or her know if any of them are happening to you.

 

Source: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1832197#ArticleInformation

Robert Ehrman, MD (45 Articles)

Dr. Robert Ehrman, MD is a Board Certified Emergency Physician. He completed his training in Emergency Medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT and Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL. He always reminds his patients that the more they take care for their health each day, the less likely they are to visit him again in the ER!

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