Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New CDC Research on Older Adult Falls linking high fall risk to circulatory and respiratory diseases

From:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Circumstances and contributing causes of increasing fall deaths among older adults


From 1999 to 2010, the number of fall deaths among older adults more than doubled. A new CDC analysis of vital statistics data shows that contributing factors to this increase may include changing trends in underlying chronic diseases and better reporting of falls as the underlying cause of death. This study, “Circumstances and Contributing Causes of Fall Deaths among Persons Aged 65 and Older: United States, 2010,” is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Key findings include:
  •  In 2010, 49% of fall deaths involved a head injury and 30% involved a hip fracture.
  • Of the 21,649 fall deaths in 2010, the largest proportion (35%) occurred from falling on the same level, followed by falling on stairs or steps (6.5%). However, information about the circumstances of 40% of the 2010 fall deaths was not available.
  • The most important contributing causes to fall deaths were circulatory diseases, especially hypertension, and respiratory diseases.

Circumstances and outcomes of falls among high risk community-dwelling older adults


CDC used prospective, self-reported information about the circumstances of falls among 328 older adults at high risk for a fall. They studied the relationships between the location of a fall, what the person was doing immediately before the fall, the direction of the fall, and the resulting injury. This study, “Circumstances and Outcomes of Falls Among High Risk Community-Dwelling Older Adults” is published in Injury Epidemiology.

Key findings include:
  • There were 1,172 falls; two thirds of them (783) occurred inside the home.
  • Being 85 or older, female, falling backward and landing flat, sideways, and forward were all significantly associated with the likelihood of experiencing an injury.
  • Among indoor falls, those that happened in a bathroom were more than twice as likely to result in an injury compared to falls that happened in a living room.

More information

Learn more about CDC’s falls prevention work:
· Older adult falls fact sheets
· STEADI Tool Kit for Health Care Providers

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