The risk of fall injury in relation to commonly prescribed medications among older people--a Swedish case-control study

Eur J Public Health. 2015 Jun;25(3):527-32. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cku120. Epub 2014 Jul 31.


Background: Older people not only consume more medication but they also represent a group at high risk for adverse effects such as injurious falls. This study examines the association between the medications most commonly prescribed to older people in Sweden and fall injuries.

Methods: This is a population-based, matched, case-control study of 64 399 persons aged ≥ 65 years in Sweden admitted to hospital because of a fall injury between March 2006 and December 2009, and four controls per case matched by gender, date of birth and place of residence. The prevalence of the 20 most commonly prescribed medications was compiled for the 30-day period before the index date. The association between those medications and injurious falls was estimated with odds ratios and corresponding 95% confidence intervals using conditional logistic regression.

Results: Ten of the top 20 most commonly prescribed medications, and in particular the three medications affecting the central nervous system (CNS), significantly increased the risk of fall injuries (highest for opioids and antidepressants) but not the seven cardiovascular ones, who had a protective effect (lowest for angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and selective calcium channel blockers).

Conclusions: The adverse effect of several commonly prescribed medications may seriously threaten their positive effects on the well-being and quality of life of older people. Their association with injurious falls is of particular concern as falls are prevalent and often leading to severe consequences. This needs to be acknowledged so physicians and patients can make informed decisions when prescribing and using them.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prescription Drugs / adverse effects*
  • Risk
  • Sweden


  • Prescription Drugs