Falls in individuals aged ≥ 60 years may result in injury, hospitalisation or death. The role of anti-hypertensive medications in falls among older adults is unclear.
The objective of this study was to assess the association of six anti-hypertensive medication classes, namely α-blockers (AB), angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi), angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB), β-blockers (BB), calcium channel blockers (CCB) and diuretics, with the risk of falls, injurious falls or recurrent falls in individuals aged ≥ 60 years compared with non-users.
We performed systematic searches in PubMed, EMBASE and CINAHL and included cohort, case-control and cross-sectional studies that investigated the associations between the use of anti-hypertensive medication classes and the risk of falls, injurious falls or recurrent falls in older adults (≥ 60 years) reported in English. We assessed study quality using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS). Unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) were pooled using random effects model. We performed meta-analyses for each anti-hypertensive medication class and each fall outcome. We also performed sensitivity analyses by pooling studies of high quality and subgroup analyses among studies with an average age of ≥ 80 years.
Seventy-eight articles (where 74, 34, 27, 18, 13 and 11 of them examined diuretics, BB, CCB, ACEi, AB and ARB, respectively) met our inclusion and exclusion criteria; we pooled estimates from 60 articles. ACEi [OR 0.85, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.81-0.89], BB (OR 0.84, 95% CI 0.76-0.93) and CCB (OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.74-0.90) use were associated with a lower risk of injurious falls than in non-users. Results in sensitivity and subgroup analyses were largely consistent.
The use of ACEi, BB or CCB among older adults may be associated with a lower risk of injurious falls than non-use.