Falling-asleep-related injured falls in the elderly

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2009 Mar;10(3):207-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2008.10.008. Epub 2009 Jan 9.


Objectives: To describe the clinical features and therapeutic response to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in elderly obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) patients with sleepiness and falling-asleep-related injured falls.

Patients and methods: In 2 geriatric units, 4 consecutive OSAS patients with falling-asleep-related injured falls were diagnosed. They were treated with CPAP and followed for 9 to 24 months.

Results: Mean age at initial observation was 82 years. All patients shared the following characteristics: self-reported daytime sleepiness, falling-asleep-related injured falls, recurrent fall history, medical comorbid conditions, PSG confirmed OSAS, and successful treatment with CPAP. They declared resolution of sleepiness and attention without any further fall under CPAP therapy.

Conclusion: A causal relationship exists between OSAS and falling-asleep-related injured falls in the elderly. Treatment of OSAS with CPAP can improve attention, daytime vigilance, and consequently gait and balance control and prevent falls in these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy
  • Sleep*