Taking certain types of beta-blocker drug could increase older patients’ risk of falling, according to researchers who say their findings have important implications for prescribers.
The researchers, from the Netherlands, recommended that clinicians needed to bear their findings in mind when weighing up the pros and cons of different types of beta-blocker for older patients.
“Precise prediction of drug-related fall risk is of major importance”
Nathalie van der Velde
Their analysis, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, looks at data from two studies encompassing more than 10,000 people aged 55 or over.
The findings suggested that older adults using non-selective beta-blockers may be at greater risk of falling, compared to those on selective beta-blocker drugs.
More than 2,900 people from the two studies in question had experienced a fall, said the researchers from the University Medical Centre Rotterdam.
When they looked at the data, they found there was no increased risk of fall linked to taking a selective-beta blocker. But there was a 22% increased risk linked to non-selective beta-blockers.
The different classes of beta-blocker are already known to have different properties and effects on the body.
“Our study suggests that use of a non-selective beta-blocker, contrary to selective beta-blockers, is associated with an increased fall risk in an older population,” said the study authors.
“In clinical practice, beta-blockers have been shown effective for a variety of cardiovascular indications,” they noted.
“Though, fall risk should be considered when prescribing a beta-blocker in this age group, and the pros and cons for beta-blockers classes should be taken into consideration.
Senior author Dr Nathalie van der Velde, said it was important to consider the risk of falls when prescribing this type of drug used to treat conditions like angina and other heart problems.
“Drug-related falls remain under-recognised, leading to preventable falls and injury,” she said. “Precise prediction of drug-related fall risk is of major importance for clinical decision-making.
“Knowledge of type-specific effects such as selectivity in beta-blockers can be expected to improve decision making,” she added.