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SSRI Use Raises Risk of Falls Resulting in Injury

A study has revealed a link between nursing home residents with dementia who have used an SSRI drug and an increased risk of a fall resulting in injury when compared to residents who have not used an SSRI. According to the authors of the study, SSRI drugs, even when taken in low doses, have shown an association with an increased risk of a fall resulting in injury in nursing home residents with dementia.

When an SSRI drug is taken in combination with a hypnotic or sedative, the risk increases even more, according to the study.

This study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, analyzed “daily drug use and daily falls over a 2-year period” in close to 250 nursing home residents diagnosed with dementia. The average age of the residents in the study was 82 years old.

One author of the study believes that healthcare providers should be cautious in prescribing SSRI drugs for patients with dementia. According to Sterke, “Physicians should think twice before prescribing SSRIs, even at low doses. Preference should be given to no pharmacological interventions for depressive symptoms in persons with dementia, such as psychosocial care methods, and music therapy.”

The results of the study revealed a dose-dependent risk between the number of SSRI drugs taken and the number of falls resulting in injury.

According to Josepha A. Cheong, professor of psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine, “This study is a reminder that the elderly with dementia are prone to many serious complications, such as falls, and are certainly more sensitive to polypharmacy. They are more likely to be on multiple medications. This is likely to potentiate any adverse drug reactions or side effects, including increased sedation, which can certainly predispose a patient to a fall.”

When conducting research, other drugs that are known to increase the risk of falls were also looked at. Some of these drugs include antipsychotics, anti-anxiety drugs, sleeping pills, pain killers, and more.

According to Sterke, falls resulting in injury are a common concern among staff in residential homes.

The Alzheimer’s Society has expressed concern about SSRI drugs causing an increased risk of falls resulting in injury in patients with dementia. According to Professor Clive Ballard of the Alzheimer’s Society, “one in three people over 65 will die with dementia yet research into the condition continues to be drastically underfunded.”

The Alzheimer’s Society is seeking additional research into alternative treatments.

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