Inpatient falls in older adults: a cohort study of antihypertensive prescribing pre- and post-fall

H. M. R. B. Omer, J. Hodson, S. K. Pontefract, U. Martin

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Background: Falls are common during hospital admissions and may occur more frequently in patients who are taking antihypertensive medications, particularly in the context of normal to low blood pressure. The review and adjustment of these medications is an essential aspect of the post-fall assessment and should take place as soon as possible after the fall.Our aim was to investigate whether appropriate post-fall adjustments of antihypertensive medications are routinely made in a large National Health Service (NHS) Trust.

Methods: Inpatient records over an eight-month period were captured from an electronic prescribing system to identify older adults (≥80 years old) with normal/low blood pressures (< 140 mmHg systolic) who had a documented inpatient fall as these patients were considered to be at high risk of further falls. Prescribed antihypertensive medication on admission was then compared with the post-fall (within 24 h after the fall) and discharge prescriptions.

Results: A total of 146 patients were included in the analysis. Of those, 120 patients (82%) were taking the same number of antihypertensive medications in the 24 h after the fall as they were before; only 19 patients (13%) had a reduction in the number of medications and seven patients (5%) had an increase in medications during that period. Only 9% of the antihypertensive classes assessed were either stopped or reduced in dose immediately post-fall. In addition, 11 new antihypertensives were prescribed at this time.At discharge, half of the patients (n = 73) remained on the same number of antihypertensive medication as on admission, 51 patients (35%) were on fewer antihypertensives and 22 (15%) were on more. Additionally, no changes were made to individual antihypertensives in 49% of prescriptions; 34% were stopped or reduced in dose but 38 new agents were started by the time of discharge. Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ACEi/ARB) were the class of medications most commonly stopped or reduced (51%).

Conclusions: Antihypertensive prescriptions are frequently unchanged after an inpatient fall. Routine medication review needs to be part of post-fall assessments in hospital to reduce the risk of further falls.
Original languageEnglish
Article number58
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2018


  • antihypertensive
  • medication review
  • postural hypotension


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