Falls as Serious for Elderly as Stroke, Heart Attack:
THURSDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Fall screening and
prevention should be a regular part of health care for older
adults, and all programs to prevent falls should include exercise,
according to updated guidelines for preventing falls in the
A summary of the American Geriatrics Society and British
Geriatric Society recommendations -- based on a review of fall
prevention studies -- appears Jan. 13 in the
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
"Falls are one of the most common health problems experienced by older adults and are a common cause of losing functional independence. Given their frequency and consequences, falls are as serious a health problem for older persons as heart attacks and strokes," guideline panel co-chair Dr. Mary Tinetti, of Yale University School of Medicine, said in a journal news release.
Doctors and other health professionals should ask older patients
if they have fallen recently or if they are unsteady when they
walk. If so, health providers should assess patients for problems
such as muscle weakness, poor balance or a significant drop in
blood pressure when the patient stands. If they have any of these
problems, then older adults should receive the interventions
outlined in the guidelines.
- Exercises to improve balance, gait and strength, such as Tai
Chi or physical therapy.
- Making changes to reduce the risk of falls in the home and
while doing daily activities.
- Reduction of medications, particularly those that affect the
brain, such as antidepressants and sleep drugs.
- Boosting low blood pressure and managing heart rate and rhythm
"We found that the most effective trials for preventing falls in older people looked at multiple interventions rather than just one; previous studies have indicated that it is more effective to focus on one intervention, but because we looked at not only what recommendations were given, but also which carried out, we're confident that multifactorial interventions is the best course of action," Tinetti said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
older adults and falls.
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