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April 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 2)

Antidepressants double risk of falls and fractures in Alzheimer’s patients
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Antidepressants double risk of falls and fractures in Alzheimer’s patients image

Alzheimer’s patients often take an antidepressant—but the drug nearly doubles the risk of a fall and hip fracture. The risk is at its greatest when the person starts taking the medication, but it’s still there even four years later.

The three most common types of antidepressants—the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), mirtazapine and SNRIs (selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors)—all have the same risk, and almost double the chances of a fall and a fracture for Alzheimer’s patients who are living in a community care home.

Antidepressant use is very common among Alzheimer’s patients, say researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, because they are used to treat chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety and agitation—three typical symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia—as well as depression.

The researchers had assessed the impact of the drugs on 50,491 Alzheimer’s patients with an average age of 80, and compared to 100,982 people without the disease.


References

(Source: International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2017; doi: 10.1002/gps.4667)

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