Reexamining the effect of antihypertensive medications on falls in old age

Lewis A. Lipsitz*, Daniel Habtemariam, Margaret Gagnon, Ikechukwu Iloputaife, Farzaneh Sorond, Achille E. Tchalla, Thierry F. Dantoine, Thomas G. Travison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Conflicting data on the relationship between antihypertensive medications and falls in elderly people may lead to inappropriate undertreatment of hypertension in an effort to prevent falls. We aimed to clarify the relationships between the chronic use of different classes of antihypertensive medications and different types of falls, to determine the effect of medication dose, and to assess whether the risk of falls is associated with differences in cerebral blood flow. We assessed demographics, clinical characteristics, and chronic antihypertensive medication use in 598 community-dwelling people with hypertension, aged 70 to 97 years, then followed them prospectively for self-reported falls using monthly calendar postcards and telephone interviews. Antihypertensive medication use was not associated with an increased risk of falls. Participants reporting use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors had a significantly decreased 1-year risk of injurious falls (odds ratio, 0.62; 95% confidence interval, 0.39-0.96), whereas those using calcium channel blockers had a decreased risk of all falls (odds ratio, 0.62; 95% confidence interval, 0.42-0.91) and indoor falls (odds ratio, 0.57; 95% confidence interval, 0.36-0.91), compared with participants not taking these drugs. Larger doses of these classes were associated with a lower fall risk. Participants taking calcium channel blockers had higher cerebral blood flow than those not taking these medications. In relatively healthy community-dwelling elderly people, high doses of antihypertensive agents are not associated with an increased risk of falls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-189
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 4 2015


  • aged
  • angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
  • antihypertensive agents
  • blood flow velocity
  • calcium channel blockers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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