OBJECTIVES. We investigated prospectively the relationships among falls, physical balance, and standing and supine blood pressure (BP) in elderly persons. BACKGROUND. Falls occur often and adversely affect the activities of daily living in the elderly; however, their relationship to BP has not been clarified thoroughly. METHODS. A total of 266 community-dwelling elderly persons age 65 years or over (123 men and 143 women, mean age of 76 years) were selected from among residents of Coop City, Bronx, New York. Balance was evaluated at baseline using computerized dynamic posturography (DPG). During a one-year follow-up, we collected information on subsequent falls on a monthly basis by postcard and telephone follow-up. RESULTS. One or more falls occurred in 60 subjects (22%) during the one-year follow-up. Women fell more frequently than men (28% vs. 16%, p < 0.03), and fallers were younger than nonfallers. Fallers (n = 60) had lower systolic BP (SBP) levels when compared with nonfallers (n = 206) (128 ± 17 vs. 137 ± 22 mm Hg for standing, p < 0.006; 137 ± 16 vs. 144 ± 22 mm Hg for lying, p < 0.02), whereas diastolic BP was not related to falls. Falls occurred 2.8 times more often in the lower BP subgroup (<140 mm Hg for standing SBP) than in the higher BP subgroup (≥140 mm Hg, p < 0.0003), and gender-related differences were observed (p = 0.006): 3.4 times for women (p < 0.0001) versus 1.9 times for men (p = 0.30). Loss of balance, as detected by DPG, did not predict future fills and was also not associated with baseline BP levels. Multiple logistic regression analysis demonstrated that female gender (relative risk [RR] = 2.1, p = 0.02), history of falls (RR = 2.5, p = 0.008) and lower standing SBP level (RR = 0.78 for 10 mm Hg increase, p = 0.005) were independent predictors of falls during one year of follow-up. CONCLUSIONS. Lower standing SBP, even within normotensive ranges, was an independent predictor of falls in the community-dwelling elderly. Elderly women with a history of falls and with lower SBP levels should have more attention paid to the prevention of falls and related accidents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine