Tired seniors catching breath

Cardiovascular disease comes with an elevated risk of falls, but clinicians likely underestimate the prevalence and risk in this population, according to a new consensus statement from the American Heart Association.

Data analyses show a 40% to  60% risk of falling among  adults with cardiovascular disease. There is a long list of possible factors that contribute to these risks, the authors found. They include fall-associated medications, orthostatic hypotension (which can cause dizziness upon standing), abnormal gait and balance, and physical frailty. 

Attention to this problem is needed among those caring for patients with heart and vascular ailments, they said. As in the general population, older adults with cardiovascular disease are particularly at risk, the authors reported.

To help patients remain safe, clinicians should conduct a careful review of medications to identify those that increase fall risk, address cardiovascular risk factors for falls such as arrhythmias and structural heart disease, and offer referrals to physical and occupational therapists and other providers who can “act on other identified fall risks,” they concluded.

The consensus statement was published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

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