Polypharmacy and falls in the elderly population


Falls are common and a serious geriatric syndrome. The impact on the individual’s quality of life and consequent disability is considerable, and multiple factors contribute to this risk. The use of a certain medication (sedative/hypnotic agents, antidepressants, neuroleptics, and psychotropic drugs) is being increasingly recognized as a factor which contributes to falls in seniors. The amount of medication used by a patient is another possible cause behind the number of falls among the elderly. Published practice guidelines contain recommendations regarding the revision, alteration or cancellation of medication in patients who have fallen, in light of the risk of future falls. They also recommend particular attention to medication reduction in elder individuals who take four or more types of medication and for those taking psychotropic drugs. Several studies report on other drugs and drug classes which may have intended or unintended pharmacological effects which should be taken into account when prescribing treatments to patients with risk of fall. The goal is to develop a system capable of supporting, advising and alerting in situations where there may be a potentially problematic
situation. Such system could be used in several applications in order to contribute, for example, to a faster and less error prone prescription system, or be used in systems capable of predicting the risk of falls in elderly people.


Author: Tiago Rocha

Type: MSc thesis

Partner: Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto

Year: 2013