Objective: To determine whether older adults with diabetes are at increased risk of an injurious fall requiring hospitalization.
Research design and methods: The longitudinal Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study included 3,075 adults aged 70-79 years at baseline. Hospitalizations that included ICD-9-Clinical Modification codes for a fall and an injury were identified. The effect of diabetes with and without insulin use on the rate of first fall-related injury hospitalization was assessed using proportional hazards models.
Results: At baseline, 719 participants had diabetes, and 117 of them were using insulin. Of the 293 participants who were hospitalized for a fall-related injury, 71 had diabetes, and 16 were using insulin. Diabetes was associated with a higher rate of injurious fall requiring hospitalization (hazard ratio [HR] 1.48 [95% CI 1.12-1.95]) in models adjusted for age, race, sex, BMI, and education. In those participants using insulin, compared with participants without diabetes, the HR was 3.00 (1.78-5.07). Additional adjustment for potential intermediaries, such as fainting in the past year, standing balance score, cystatin C level, and number of prescription medications, accounted for some of the increased risk associated with diabetes (1.41 [1.05-1.88]) and insulin-treated diabetes (2.24 [1.24-4.03]). Among participants with diabetes, a history of falling, poor standing balance score, and A1C level ≥8% were risk factors for an injurious fall requiring hospitalization.
Conclusions: Older adults with diabetes, in particular those using insulin, are at greater risk of an injurious fall requiring hospitalization than those without diabetes. Among those with diabetes, poor glycemic control may increase the risk of an injurious fall.