The role of plasma concentrations and drug characteristics of beta-blockers in fall risk of older persons

K. J. Ploegmakers, E. P. van Poelgeest, L. J. Seppala, S. C. van Dijk, L. C. P. G. M. de Groot, S. Oliai Araghi, N. M. van Schoor, B. Stricker, K. M. A. Swart, A. G. Uitterlinden, R. A. A. Mathôt, N. van der Velde

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Beta-blocker usage is inconsistently associated with increased fall risk in the literature. However, due to age-related changes and interindividual heterogeneity in pharmacokinetics and dynamics, it is difficult to predict which older adults are more at risk for falls. Therefore, we wanted to explore whether elevated plasma concentrations of selective and nonselective beta-blockers are associated with an increased risk of falls in older beta-blocker users. To answer our research question, we analyzed samples of selective (metoprolol, n = 316) and nonselective beta-blockers (sotalol, timolol, propranolol, and carvedilol, n = 179) users from the B-PROOF cohort. The associations between the beta-blocker concentration and time to first fall were assessed using Cox proportional hazard models. Change of concentration over time in relation to fall risk was assessed with logistic regression models. Models were adjusted for potential confounders. Our results showed that above the median concentration of metoprolol was associated with an increased fall risk (HR 1.55 [1.11–2.16], p =.01). No association was found for nonselective beta-blocker concentrations. Also, changes in concentration over time were not associated with increased fall risk. To conclude, metoprolol plasma concentrations were associated with an increased risk of falls in metoprolol users while no associations were found for nonselective beta-blockers users. This might be caused by a decreased β1-selectivity in high plasma concentrations. In the future, beta-blocker concentrations could potentially help clinicians estimate fall risk in older beta-blockers users and personalize treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01126
JournalPharmacology Research and Perspectives
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • accidental falls
  • adrenergic beta-antagonists
  • metoprolol
  • risk assessment

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