Impaired Orthostatic Blood Pressure Recovery Is Associated with Unexplained and Injurious Falls

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 Mar;65(3):474-482. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14563. Epub 2017 Mar 10.


Objectives: Cardiovascular disorders are recognized as important modifiable risk factors for falls. However, the association between falls and orthostatic hypotension (OH) remains ambivalent, particularly because of poor measurement methods of previous studies. The goal was to determine for the first time to what extent OH (and variants) are risk factors for incident falls, unexplained falls (UF), injurious falls (IF) and syncope using dynamic blood pressure (BP) measurements in a population study.

Design: Nationally representative longitudinal cohort study-The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)-wave 1 (2009-2011) with 2-year follow-up at wave 2 (2012-2013).

Setting: Community-dwelling adults.

Participants: Four thousand one hundred twenty-seven participants were randomly sampled from the population of older adults aged ≥50 years resident in Ireland.

Measurements: Continuous BP recordings measured during active stands were analyzed. OH and variants (initial OH and impaired orthostatic BP stabilization OH(40)) were defined using dynamic BP measurements. Associations with the number of falls, UF, IF, and syncope reported 2 years later were assessed using negative binomial and modified Poisson regression as appropriate.

Results: Participants had a mean age of 61.5 (8.2) years (54.2% female). OH(40) was associated with increased relative risk of UF (RR: 1.52 95% CI: 1.03-2.26). OH was associated with all-cause falls (IRR: 1.40 95% CI: 1.01-1.96), UF(RR: 1.81 95% CI: 1.06-3.09), and IF(RR: 1.58 95% CI: 1.12-2.24). IOH was not associated with any outcome.

Conclusion: With the exception of initial orthostatic hypotension, beat-to-beat measures of impaired orthostatic BP recovery (delayed recovery OH (40) or sustained orthostatic hypotension OH) are independent risk factors for future falls, unexplained falls, and injurious falls.

Keywords: falls risk; impaired orthostatic blood pressure stabilization; injurious falls; orthostatic hypotension; unexplained falls.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Pressure Determination
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypotension, Orthostatic / epidemiology*
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Risk Factors
  • Syncope / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*