Medication for alzheimer's disease and associated fall hazard: A retrospective cohort study from the alzheimer's disease neuroimaging initiative

Noam U. Epstein, Rong Guo, Martin R. Farlow, Jaswinder P. Singh, Morris Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Background: Falls are common in the elderly, especially in those with cognitive impairment. The elderly are often treated with several medications, which may have both beneficial and deleterious effects. The use and type of medication in Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and association with falls is limited. Objective: We examined the association between falls and medication use in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). Methods: Diagnosis, demographics, medication use, apolipoprotein E4 allele status and functional activity level at baseline were gathered for 810 participants enrolled in the ADNI, including healthy controls and subjects with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's. Reports detailing adverse event falls were tabulated. Baseline characteristics were compared between subjects with and without one or more falls. Cox proportional hazards models were conducted to evaluate the association between subject characteristics and hazard of the first fall. Results: Age (p < 0.0001), Functional Activities Questionnaire (p = 0.035), Beers List (p = 0.0477) and medications for treating cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer's (p = 0.0019) were associated with hazard of fall in the univariate model. In the final multivariate model, after adjusting for covariates, Alzheimer's medication use (p = 0.0005) was associated with hazard of fall. Medication was changed by the clinician after an adverse fall event in 9 % of the falls. About 7 % of the falls were reported as serious adverse events and 6 % were reported to be severe. Conclusion: We found a significant association between the use of symptomatic medication treating cognitive symptoms in AD and hazard of fall after adjusting for age and Beers List medication use. Additional pharmacovigilance of the association between falls and Alzheimer's medication use is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-129
Number of pages5
JournalDrugs and Aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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