Unrecognized benign paroxysmal positional vertigo in elderly patients

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2000 May;122(5):630-4. doi: 10.1016/S0194-5998(00)70187-2.


Balance disorders in elderly patients are associated with an increased risk of falls but are often difficult to diagnose because of comorbid chronic medical problems. We performed a cross-sectional study to determine the prevalence of unrecognized benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and associated lifestyle sequelae in a public, inner-city geriatric population. Dizziness was found in 61% of patients, whereas balance disorders were found in 77% of patients. Nine percent were found to have unrecognized BPPV. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that the presence of a spinning sensation and the absence of a lightheadedness sensation predicted the presence of unrecognized BPPV. Patients with unrecognized BPPV were more likely to have reduced activities of daily living scores, to have sustained a fall in the previous 3 months, and to have depression. These data indicate that unrecognized BPPV is common within the elderly population and has associated morbidity. Further prospective studies are warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dizziness / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Postural Balance
  • Prevalence
  • Sensation Disorders / diagnosis
  • Vertigo / complications
  • Vertigo / diagnosis*
  • Vertigo / epidemiology