Validation of dizziness as a possible geriatric syndrome

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2001 Jan;49(1):72-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1532-5415.2001.49012.x.


Objective: While dizziness has traditionally been considered solely as a symptom of discrete diseases, recent findings from population-based studies of older persons suggest that it may often be a geriatric syndrome with multiple predisposing risk factors, representing impairments in diverse systems. To validate these findings, we identified predisposing risk factors for dizziness in a clinic-based population.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Geriatric assessment center.

Participants: 262 consecutive, eligible patients.

Measurements: Medical history and physical examination data were ascertained and characteristics of patients with and without a report of dizziness were compared.

Results: Seven factors were independently associated with a report of dizziness, namely depressive symptoms, cataracts, abnormal balance or gait, postural hypotension, diabetes, past myocardial infarction, and the use of three or more medications. Of patients with none of these risk factors, none reported dizziness. This proportion rose from 6% among patients with one factor, to 12%, 26%, and 51% among patients with two, three, and four or more factors, respectively.

Conclusions: The finding of similar factors associated with dizziness in previous community-based cohorts and the present clinic-based cohort supports the possibility of a multifactorial etiology of dizziness in many older persons. A multifactorial intervention targeting the factors identified in these studies may be effective at reducing the frequency or severity of dizziness in older patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Causality
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dizziness* / epidemiology
  • Dizziness* / etiology
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Syndrome