Antidepressants associated with increased head injury risk in Alzheimer’s patients

Antidepressants might put Alzheimer’s patients at a higher risk of traumatic brain injuries, as well as falls.

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Antidepressants are associated with an increased risk of falls and fractures in older people, but it is unknown whether they are associated with head injuries.

To explore this, researchers used data from a Finnish study of community-dwelling people with Alzheimer’s disease to compare 10,910 new antidepressant users with 21,820 matched non-users.

At median follow-up of 249 days, antidepressant use was associated with a 35% increased hazard of head injury (propensity score adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 1.35, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.20–1.52) and 26% increased hazard of traumatic brain injury compared with non-use (HR 1.26, 95% CI 1.06–1.50). The risk was highest during the first 30 days of use and, for head injuries, remained elevated for more than two years of use.

Reporting in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy (online, 1 August 2017), the team said that further research was needed to explore the link between antidepressants and head injuries, but that prescribers should carefully consider their appropriateness in vulnerable patients[1]


[1] Taipale H, Koponen M, Tanskanen A et al. Risk of head and traumatic brain injuries associated with antidepressant use among community-dwelling persons with Alzheimer’s disease: a nationwide matched cohort study. Alz Res Ther 2017;9:59. doi: 10.1186/s13195-017-0285-3

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Antidepressants associated with increased head injury risk in Alzheimer’s patients;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203473

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