Senior walking

Falls are common in older adults who have had a heart attack, and there are certain signs that can predict risk, researchers say.

Investigators analyzed data from over 3,000 U.S. adults aged 75 and older who had experienced acute myocardial infarction (heart attack). Falls that followed the heart attack were self-reported, while medically serious falls tied to emergency department admission or hospitalization were determined using medical records. 

Results showed that 22% of participants reported a fall and about 6% had a medically serious fall within six months of discharge after hospitalization for their heart attack. Falls in these patients were linked to readily identified demographic, functional and clinical factors, according to David W. Goldstein M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues. These included impaired mobility, prior fall history, longer hospital stay, visual impairment and weak grip. 

A different group of factors were tied to medically serious falls. These included older age, polypharmacy, impaired functional mobility, prior fall history and living alone.

“Fall risk should be considered in post-AMI clinical decision-making, and interventions to prevent falls should be evaluated,” the researchers concluded.

Participants were volunteers in the Comprehensive Evaluation of Risk Factors in Older Patients with AMI (SILVER-AMI) study. Full findings were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.