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ASCOT changes long overdue

The drive to hit stricter blood pressure targets appears to be causing a surge in the rate of falls related to hypotension.

Some hospital trusts are reporting a doubling in their rate of falls over the last two years.

Dr Julia Newton, consultant physician with an interest in care of the elderly at the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust, told Pulse there had been a ‘significant' rise in falls admissions since the contract.

‘Our referrals are increasing year on year. We're seeing more older people who we are changing or stopping [medication].'

At Newcastle upon Tyne hospitals the number attending the falls clinic has increased from 439 in 2002/03 to 615 in 2003/04 and 832 in 2004/05. Other trusts have experienced similar increases.

Dr Michael Pearson, consultant in elderly care medicine at the Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospitals, said: ‘It's a continual problem.

‘At our clinic 27 per cent have postural hypotension and in half it's due to drugs.'

Dr Malcolm Kendrick, who developed the educational website for the European Society of Cardiology, said BP drugs were overused. ‘We've gone bonkers. The whole area needs to be thought through.'

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