Objective: The objective of this study was to determine if a relationship exists between the presence of anemia and the occurrence of falls during hospitalization in ambulatory older adults from long-term care and community settings. All individuals were hospitalized for acute conditions not related to a fall.
Participants: Three hundred sixty-two hospitalized, ambulatory older (59-104 years) adults.
Measurements: Laboratory values (hemoglobin [Hb], hematocrit [Hct]), routine laboratory tests, pertinent medical history, and demographics.
Results: Ambulatory hospitalized patients who fell were compared to controls (no falls during hospitalization) of similar age (P = .283) and gender distribution (P = .554). Patients who fell had significantly lower Hb (P < .00005), lower Hct (P < .00005) and were more likely to be anemic (56% vs 38%, P = .001) than controls. A logistic regression model examined the effect of Hb level and anemia on falls and included the covariates of age, gender, place of residence, and race. The model described a 22% decreased risk of falls for every 1.0 g/dL increase in Hb (P < .0005) and an overall 1.9-fold increased risk of falls in anemic patients (P < .001). Patient age, gender, and place of residence were not related to the risk of falls during hospitalization.
Conclusions: These findings suggest a potentially important link between anemia and the risk of falls during hospitalization in ambulatory older patients. Further studies are needed to determine if the risk of falls can be modified by correction of anemia and to determine the applicability of these findings to older adults in different settings.