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Association between antidepressants and fall-related injuries among long-term care residents

Macri JC, Iaboni A, Kirkham JG, Maxwell C, Gill SS, Vasudev A, Whitehead M, Seitz DP. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2017; 25(12):1326-36. Epub 2017 Sep 1.


Objectives — Antidepressants are associated with an increased risk of falls although little is known of the comparative risks of different types of antidepressants or individuals who are at greatest risk for falls. We examined the association between new use of antidepressants and fall-related injuries among older adults in long-term care (LTC).

Design, Setting, Participants — This was a matched, retrospective cohort study involving LTC residents in Ontario, Canada, from 2008 to 2014. New users of antidepressants were matched to non-users of antidepressants.

Measurements — The primary outcome was any fall resulting in an emergency department (ED) visit or hospitalization within 90 days after exposure. Secondary outcomes included hip fractures, wrist fractures, and falls reported in LTC. Multivariate logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval associated with antidepressants and outcomes.

Results — New users of any antidepressant had an increased risk of ED visits or hospitalization for falls within 90 days when compared with individuals not receiving antidepressants (5.2% versus 2.8%; adjusted OR: 1.9, 95% CI: 1.7-2.2). Antidepressants were also associated with an increased risk of all secondary outcomes. The increased risk of fall-related injuries was evident among selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, trazodone, and across multiple patient subgroups.

Conclusions — New use of antidepressants is associated with significantly increased risk of falls and fall-related injuries among LTC residents across different patient subgroups and antidepressant classes. The potential risk of fall-related outcomes should be carefully considered when initiating antidepressants among older adults in LTC.

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