Posted on Jul 23, 2019, 5 p.m.
New research suggests that heart damage in older adults may be leading to more falls, as published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society; findings were presented at the American Heart Association Epidemiology Conference in March 2019.
Older adults aged 75+ with subclinical myocardial damage and cardiac wall strain are at a higher risk of falling according to new research with findings suggesting increasing heart health may help to prevent their falls from occurring within the older population.
"Given that falls can often be fatal for older adults, greater knowledge of the factors that contribute to falls represents a significant public health priority," lead author Stephen Juraschek said in a release. "For the first time, our study shows that subclinical cardiovascular disease is itself a fall risk factor. This raises the important question of whether treatment of subclinical cardiovascular disease could help prevent falls among older adults."
Indications of subclinical myocardial damage and cardiac wall strain were discovered to be strongly and independently linked to new falls within the study group involving close to 4,000 adults with an average age of 75 with no history of cardiovascular disease, stroke, or heart failure
Physical activity may be the key to preventing myocardial damage, previous research shows that exercise can help to reduce the risk of falling among older adults. 1 in 4 older American adults suffer a bad fall every year according to the CDC and The Council on Aging; these accidents amount to close to $38 billion in Medicaid and Medicare costs plus another $12 billion paid by private and other payers that result in over 2.8 million emergency rooms visits involving more than 27,000 deaths.
"Our findings are informative for clinical discussions pertaining to both the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and fall interventions in older adults," Juraschek said. "Whether treatment of subclinical cardiovascular disease could help prevent falls among older adults is beyond the scope of the present study, but represents an important subject of subsequent fall prevention research. Such research has the potential to inform practitioners considering the risk and benefits of primary prevention treatments in older adults at risk for falls."
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