Non-selective beta-blockers increase fall risk in older adults

The association between beta-blockers and falls in patients aged 55 years and over may be related to the type prescribed, data analysis finds.

Elderly person with broken leg in hospital

Beta-blockers are thought to increase the risk of falls, but research into this risk has not yielded consistent results.

Researchers from the Netherlands hypothesised that the mixed findings might be due to variation in the risk of falls between beta-blockers with different characteristics. To explore, they performed a meta-analysis on data from two past study cohorts including 2,917 participants aged 55 years and over who had a fall during follow-up.

They found that while overall there was no association between current use of a beta-blocker and falls risk, use of a non-selective beta-blocker was associated with a 22% increased risk of a fall compared with no beta-blocker use (hazard ratio 1.22 (95% confidence interval 1.01; 1.48).

Reporting in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
(online, 7 June 2017), the researchers say that falls risk should be considered when prescribing a beta-blocker in this age group.


[1] Ham A, van Dijk S, Swart K et al. Beta-blocker use and fall risk in older individuals; original results from two studies with meta-analysis. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2017. doi: 10.1111/bcp.13328

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP June 2017 online;9(6):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203061

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