Harvard Women's Health Watch

High blood pressure drugs linked to falls

If your blood pressure is high, taking blood pressure medicines can lessen your odds of having a heart attack or stroke. Yet new research suggests they might also increase your risk of falling and fracturing a hip or getting a head injury. The study included nearly 5,000 people over age 70 with high blood pressure.

During the three-year follow-up period, 9% of the participants had a fall. People who were on moderate-intensity blood pressure drugs were more likely to get a fall injury than those who weren't on the medicines, according to the study, which was published Feb. 24, 2014, in JAMA Internal Medicine. The risk increased regardless of the type of blood pressure drug people took. And those who had fallen before and hurt themselves were more likely to fall again. The authors said blood pressure medicines can cause side effects such as dizziness and balance problems, but it's hard to determine from the study whether it's the medicines—or the high blood pressure itself—contributing to the falls. If you're taking a blood pressure drug, talk to your doctor about fall prevention, but don't just drop these important medicines, because their benefits for reducing heart risks often outweigh their risk for falls.

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