Harvard Heart Letter

Do blood pressure drugs raise your risk of a fall?

Some research has suggested that older people who take blood pressure medications may be prone to falls, perhaps because the drugs make them dizzy or lightheaded when they stand up. But a new study in the May 2015 Hypertension found no increased risk of falls in people taking blood pressure drugs.

For the study, nearly 600 people with chronic high blood pressure reported their falls to researchers via mail-in postcards and phone calls. Almost half of the participants, whose average age was 78, reported one or more falls during the yearlong study. Neither standard nor high doses of blood pressure drugs were linked to falls. In fact, people who took two commonly prescribed types of blood pressure medications—ACE inhibitors and calcium-channel blockers—had a lower rate of falling compared with people not taking those drugs. Given the known benefits of treating high blood pressure in older people, the authors say, withholding blood pressure medication for fear of causing a fall may not make sense.