Association between disease-related factors and balance and falls among the elderly with COPD: a cross-sectional study

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2011 Oct-Dec;23(5-6):372-7. doi: 10.1007/BF03325235.


Background and aims: To investigate the relationship between disease-related factors and balance, and a history of falls in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Methods: Thirty-six patients with COPD and twenty healthy individuals were studied. Pulmonary function (pulmonary function test), hypoxemia (analysis of arterial blood gases), history of falls and tripping (number of falls and tripping in the past year), balance (Berg's Balance Scale-BBS), quadriceps femoris muscle strength (manual muscle test), and exercise capacity (6-minute walking test-6MWT) were assessed.

Results: BBS scores were significantly different between groups (p=0.001). BBS scores, frequency of falls and tripping were correlated in COPD patients (p ≤ 0.01). BBS score and frequency of falls were correlated with dyspnea and peripheral oxygen saturation measured after the 6MWT, partial arterial oxygen pressure, and arterial oxygen saturation values in COPD patients (p<0.05).

Conclusions: According to our results, hypoxemia, dyspnea and fatigue are disease- related factors, which are related with balance impairment and falls in COPD patients. For this reason, we suggest that assessment of and training to improve balance impairment among the elderly with COPD should be a component of pulmonary rehabilitation programs in clinical practice.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dyspnea / epidemiology*
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology
  • Exercise Test
  • Fatigue / epidemiology*
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / epidemiology*
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Postural Balance
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Function Tests


  • Biomarkers
  • Oxygen