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Systematic review
Use of sedatives and hypnotics, antidepressants and benzodiazepines in older people significantly increases their risk of falls
  1. Sirpa Hartikainen1,
  2. Eija Lönnroos2
  1. 1Kuopio Research Centre of Geriatric Care and Unit of Clinical Pharmacology and Geriatric Pharmacotherapy, School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, kuopio Campus, Yliopistonranta 1, P.O. Box 1627, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland
  2. 2Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition/Department of Geriatrics, University of Eastern Finland, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Sirpa Hartikainen
    Professor in Geriatric Pharmacotherapy, Kuopio Research Centre of Geriatric Care and Unit of Clinical Pharmacology and Geriatric Pharmacotherapy, School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio Campus, Yliopistonranta 1, P.O. Box 1627, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland; sirpa.hartikainen{at}uef.fi

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Falls are a common geriatric syndrome. They are highly prevalent in older people, their impact on quality of life and disability is substantial, and multiple factors contribute to the risk.1 Age-related changes in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics and declining health make older people particularly vulnerable to adverse drug events, including falls. Risk factors are of most importance in clinical practice if they are easily identifiable, modifiable and, at best, avoidable. Medication use often meets these criteria.

Two credible meta-analyses on drugs and falls were published by Leipzig and colleagues in 1999.2 3 Woolcott and colleagues recently provided a quantitative update to these meta-analyses. They demonstrated a significant association between the use of sedatives/hypnotics, antidepressants and benzodiazepines and falls in older people. Their meta-analysis was based on data from 22 original studies published between …

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