DUNDEE University researchers are seeking volunteers to take part in a ground breaking study to develop a fresh approach to reducing falls amongst the elderly.
The PREFACE study (Preventing Falls with ACE inhibitors) is aiming to discover whether a group of commonly prescribed drugs known as ACE inhibitors, currently used for heart problems,could also improve muscles and balance and help counter the risk of falls by pensioners.
Dr Deepa Sumukadas, from Ageing and Health in the university’s School of Medicine is leading the research.
He explained: “One in three older people in Tayside falls at least once each year, incidents which are worrying for them and their families and can have serious consequences like injuries, fractures, disability, and loss of confidence.
“Poor balance often contributes to falls. While exercise and balance training are useful, not everyone is willing or able to do this, so fresh approaches to reducing falls are needed.”
Dr Sumukadas continued: “We think it is possible that these ACE inhibitor drugs used for heart problems might also improve muscles and balance. As a first step in finding out whether this is correct, we are studying the effect an ACE inhibitor has on balance.
“If effective, this could provide a convenient and attractive treatment for older people at risk of falling.”
The study is aiming to recruit people aged 65 years or over in the Tayside area who have had one or more falls in the past twelve months and who have sought medical advice for their falls.
A university spokesman explained: “People who take part will be given either an ACE inhibitor pill or a matching dummy pill to take for 15 weeks. Each person who takes part will have a 50:50 chance of getting the ACE inhibitor and neither the researchers nor the participants will know who has got which.
“Balance and muscle strength will be measured before starting the pills and again after 15 weeks.”
The study is being supported by a grant of £180,000 from the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office.