Association between benzodiazepines and recurrent falls: a cross-sectional elderly population-based study

J Nutr Health Aging. 2011 Jan;15(1):72-7. doi: 10.1007/s12603-011-0015-7.


Background: While the association between benzodiazepines (BZD) and single fall is long-known, the association between BZD and recurrent falls has been few studied.

Objective: The aims of this study were 1) to examine whether BZD were associated with recurrent falls while taking into account the effect of potential confounders, and 2) to determine whether there was an interaction in terms of risk of falls between BZD and balance impairment in a community-dwelling population-based adults aged 65 and older.

Study design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: Three health centers in North-East of France.

Population: 7643 community-dwelling volunteers aged 65 and older.

Outcome measures: The use of BZD, the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) score, the Clock Drawing Test (CDT), the One Leg Balance (OLB) test, the Five Times Sit-To-Stand test (FTSS), and a history of falls were recorded. Subjects were separated into 4 groups based on the number of falls: 0, 1, 2 and ≥ 3 falls.

Results: Among the 1456 (19.2%) fallers, 994 (13.0%) were single fallers and 462 (6.1%) were recurrent fallers (i.e., > 2 falls). The number of falls increased significantly with age (Incident Rate Ratio (IRR)=1.04, P < 0.001), female gender (IRR=2.24, P < 0.001), the use of benzodiazepine (IRR=1.65 P < 0.001) and especially while subjects used bromazepam (IRR=1.44, P=0.006), clobazam (IRR=3.01, P=0.014) and prazepam (IRR=2.29, P < 0.001). A low MMSE score (IRR=0.96, P < 0.001), an impaired CDT (IRR=0.91, P < 0.001), and a bad performance at OLB and FTSS (respectively IRR=1.85, P < 0.001 and IRR=1.26, P < 0.001) were related to the recurrence of falls. After adjustment only the advance in age (IRR=1.02, P < 0.001), female gender (IRR=2.15, P < 0.001), clobazam (IRR=2.54, P=0.04), prazepam (IRR=1.63, P=0.03) and OLB (IRR=1.55, P < 0.001) were still significantly related to the number of falls.

Conclusion: The current study shows that the age, the female gender, the use of clobazam or prazepam and a low score at OLB are related to the recurrence of falls.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Benzodiazepines / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement*
  • Postural Balance / drug effects*
  • Recurrence
  • Sex Factors


  • Benzodiazepines