For Older Hypertension Patients, An Unwelcome Tradeoff

Seniors who take blood pressure medications have a greater risk of falling and suffering hip fractures and other injuries, a new Yale School of Medicine study shows. Though the drugs help to lower the risk of strokes and heart attacks, the reduction in risk may be offset by an increased risk of serious injuries from falls, said Dr. Mary Tinetti, chief of geriatrics at Yale School of Medicine and an author of the new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine. “Older patients and their clinicians need to weigh the harms as well as the benefits in prescribing medications, particularly when the harms may be at least as serious as the diseases and events we hope the medications prevent,” Tinetti said. Clinicians have long assumed that blood pressure medications are safe and effective in all older adults. While likely true in healthy older adults, that might not be the case in a more typical population of older adults, who often have other chronic conditions, the researchers say.

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