Recent Blog Articles

Heart Health

Blood pressure drugs associated with fall risk

April 11, 2014

All medicines are associated with both benefits and risks. A new study finds that all medications to treat high blood pressure in older adults seem to be associated with an increased risk of serious falls. Researchers published their findings in the Feb. 24, 2014, JAMA Internal Medicine. They found that exposure to moderate or high doses of any medication to treat high blood pressure was associated with a 30% to 40% increased risk of falls with serious injury, compared with no use of the medications. That sounds like a large risk, but over three years, these were the risks of serious falls: 9.0% in those not taking blood pressure medicine, 11.6% in those taking moderate doses, and 10.9% in those taking higher doses. The association was stronger in people who had fallen and suffered an injury in the past. But there were no clear differences in injury risk between the drug classes, including diuretics, angiotensin-receptor blockers, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, and calcium-channel blockers.

"These drugs do, after all, lower blood pressure, which could cause people to be lightheaded and even faint when suddenly standing after sitting. There is no question that treating blood pressure leads to reductions in the risk for stroke and heart disease, so if you feel lightheaded when standing, don't stop your medications. But tell your doctor about it, and exercise caution when standing up suddenly," says Dr. Thomas Lee, a cardiologist and internist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.