Fracture after falling has been identified as an important problem in public health. Most studies of risk factors for fractures due to falls have been carried out in developed countries, although the size of the elderly population is increasing fast in middle income countries. The objective of this paper is to identify risk factors for fall related to severe fractures in those aged 60 or more in a middle-income country.
A case-control study was carried out in Rio de Janeiro-Brazil based general hospitals between 2002–2003. Two hundred-fifty hospitalised cases of fracture were matched with 250 community controls by sex, age group and living area. Data were collected for socio-demographic variables, health status and drugs used before the fall. A conditional logistic regression model was fitted to identify variables associated with the risk of fall related severe fracture.
Low body mass index, cognitive impairment, stroke and lack of urine control were associated with increased risk of severe fall related fractures. Benzodiazepines and muscle relaxants were also related to an increased risk of severe fractures while moderate use of alcohol was associated with reduced risk.
Although the association between benzodiazepines and fractures due to fall has been consistently demonstrated for old people, this has not been the case for muscle relaxant drugs. The decision to prescribe muscle relaxants for elderly people should take into account the risk of severe fracture associated with these drugs.