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By Barbara Peters Smith
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
More proof that no medication’s benefits come without a drawback: A new study has found that antidepressants given to nursing home residents with dementia are associated with three times the likelihood of an injurious fall. The higher the dose, the larger the risk. The results are published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
Many nursing home residents with dementia suffer from depression, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are generally considered the treatment of choice.
“Our study also discovered that the risk of an injurious fall increased even more if the residents were also given hypnotic or sedative drugs as sleeping pills,” said lead author Carolyn Shanty Sterke, who works in the Section of Geriatric Medicine at Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Falls are a major health problem in nursing home residents with dementia. In nursing homes, one-third of all falls result in an injury. “Physicians should be cautious in prescribing SSRIs to older people with dementia, even at low doses,” said Sterke.