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BACKGROUND: We assessed the risk of adverse events-severe acute kidney injury (AKI), falls and fractures-associated with use of antihypertensives in older patients with complex health needs (CHN). SETTING: UK primary care linked to inpatient and mortality records. METHODS: The source population comprised patients aged >65, with ≥1 year of registration and unexposed to antihypertensives in the year before study start. We identified three cohorts of patients with CHN, namely, unplanned hospitalisations, frailty (electronic frailty index deficit count ≥3) and polypharmacy (prescription of ≥10 medicines). Patients in any of these cohorts were included in the CHN cohort. We conducted self-controlled case series for each cohort and outcome (AKI, falls, fractures). Incidence rate ratios (IRRs) were estimated by dividing event rates (i) during overall antihypertensive exposed patient-time over unexposed patient-time; and (ii) in the first 30 days after treatment initiation over unexposed patient-time. RESULTS: Among 42,483 patients in the CHN cohort, 7,240, 5,164 and 450 individuals had falls, fractures or AKI, respectively. We observed an increased risk for AKI associated with exposure to antihypertensives across all cohorts (CHN: IRR 2.36 [95% CI: 1.68-3.31]). In the 30 days post-antihypertensive treatment initiation, a 35-50% increased risk for falls was found across all cohorts and increased fracture risk in the frailty cohort (IRR 1.38 [1.03-1.84]). No increased risk for falls/fractures was associated with continuation of antihypertensive treatment or overall use. CONCLUSION: Treatment with antihypertensives in older patients was associated with increased risk of AKI and transiently elevated risk of falls in the 30 days after starting antihypertensive therapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Age ageing

Publication Date





acute kidney injury, antihypertensives, drug safety, falls, older people, pharmacoepidemiology, self-controlled case series, Humans, Aged, Antihypertensive Agents, Frailty, Cognition, Fractures, Bone, United Kingdom, Acute Kidney Injury