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Antidepressants heighten fall risks in residents with dementia

June 10, 2016
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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People with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias have a much higher risk of falling when taking antidepressants compared to taking antipsychotics, according to a study published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A.

The study examined Medicare claims data from 2007-2009 involving nursing home residents with dementia who had recently been prescribed an antidepressant or an antipsychotic. Not only are those taking antidepressants more likely to fall compared to those taking antipsychotics, they’re also significantly more likely to hurt themselves. Residents taking an antidepressant had an adjusted hazard ratio of 1.16 for falls compared to those taking an antipsychotic, but had an adjusted hazard ratio of 1.35 for fractures.

The study’s findings may help physicians and consultant pharmacists weigh the risks when deciding which drug treatment to prescribe, and may help nurses identify falls risks better in residents who take an antidepressant.

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