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Fall Risk Factors Vary by Gender in Older Adults

Factors may ID older men and women at short- and long-term risk for injurious falls

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TUESDAY, Dec. 18, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Older men and women have different fall risk profiles, according to a study published online Nov. 29 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Stina Ek, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues analyzed data from 3,112 community-dwelling participants (≥60 years of age) in the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care (2001 through 2011). The authors sought to assess sex-specific associations between risk factors and injurious falls.

The researchers found that in the short term, living alone (hazard ratio [HR], 1.83), dependency for instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs; HR, 2.59), and previous falls (HR, 1.71) were independently associated with injurious falls in women. In men, injurious falls were associated with low systolic blood pressure (HR, 1.96), impaired chair stands (HR, 3.00), and previous falls (HR, 2.81). In women, long-term risk factors were underweight (HR, 2.03), cognitive impairment (HR, 1.49), fall risk-increasing drugs (HR, 1.67 for two or more medications), and IADL dependency (HR, 1.58). Among men, long-term risk factors included smoking (HR, 1.71), heart disease (HR, 2.20), impaired balance (HR, 1.68), and a previous fall (HR, 3.61).

"Despite the numerous studies on risk factors for falls in older adults, studies examining sex differences are scarce," Ek said in a statement. "If we take these sex differences into consideration in screening and prevention programs for falls, we may potentially enable a better person-centered approach."

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