Lowering the risk of a fall on psychotropic drugs

Thursday, 27 June, 2024

Lowering the risk of a fall on psychotropic drugs

A significant finding has been made by Macquarie University researchers studying the impact of psychotropic drugs on the risk of falls among older people.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, showed that 83.6% of aged care residents receive psychotropic medication and 77.3% are on cardiovascular disease drugs. Both are classified as fall-risk-increasing drugs (FRIDs).

However, it also found that older people who had been prescribed psychotropic medication, and were also consistently taking cardiovascular disease medication at the same time, may be at lesser risk for serious falls.

The research, led by senior research fellow Dr Nasir Wabe from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, showed that those residents receiving high levels of psychotropic medication along with high levels of cardiovascular disease drugs were less likely to fall than other residents receiving high levels of psychotropic medication but low levels of cardiovascular disease drugs.

“Our analysis revealed a potential preventative effect when high dose psychotropic medication was used with high dose cardiovascular disease medication,” Wabe said.

With residents of aged care facilities three times more likely to fall compared to those living in the community, potentially leading to serious injury and reduced quality of life, it is important to understand the additional risk associated with FRIDs, Wabe said.

“Understanding the impact of these drugs on people in residential aged care and monitoring their usage is crucial for ensuring safety,” he said.

Wabe and Professor Johanna Westbrook, also from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, are leading work to ensure residents, their families, aged care providers and care staff have access to accurate and timely information about medication being prescribed and administered. Issues with medication administration and management that can lead to serious consequences — including hospitalisation, reduced quality of life, and death — were the basis of many concerns raised during the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The research included data from the medical records of 4207 permanent residents newly admitted to 27 residential aged care homes in Sydney, Australia.

Image credit: iStock.com/Fly View Productions

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