Older adults who take several medications are at a higher risk for falls, among other health complications, a recently published study finds.
Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City studied a group of 482 people who were older than 65 (most were in their late 70s). None used canes or walkers.
Polypharmacy among study participants was defined as taking more than five medications. Thirty-four percent of study participants took five or more medications, and 10% took more than eight.
Although the study’s main purpose was to detect medications’ effect on walking ability, the researchers found that those in the polypharmacy group were more likely to have had a fall within the last year.
People in this group also were more likely to have high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, diabetes and a history of heart attacks. They also more often were overweight.
Participants who were taking more than eight medications had a significantly slower walking ability while talking compared with people taking fewer medications.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.