Background: Gait disturbance is proposed as a mechanism for higher risk of fall in kidney disease patients. We investigated the association of kidney function with gait pattern in the general population and tested whether the association between impaired kidney function and fall is more pronounced in subjects with lower gait function.
Methods: We included 1430 participants (mean age: 60 years) from the Rotterdam Study. Kidney function was assessed using estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR). We assessed global gait, gait velocity and seven independent gait domains: Rhythm, Phases, Variability, Pace, Tandem, Turning and Base of Support. Regression models adjusted for cardiometabolic and neurological factors were used. We evaluated whether participants with impaired kidney function and impaired gait fell more in the previous year.
Results: The study population had a median (interquartile range) ACR of 3.6 (2.5-6.2) mg/g and mean ± SD eGFR of 87.6 ± 15 mL/min/1.73 m2. Higher ACR and lower eGFR were associated with lower global gait score [per doubling of ACR: -0.10, 95% confidence interval (CI): -0.14 to -0.06, and per SD eGFR:-0.09, 95% CI: -0.14 to -0.03] and slower gait speed (ACR: -1.44 cm/s, CI: -2.12 to -0.76; eGFR: -1.55 cm/s, CI: -2.43 to -0.67). Worse kidney function was associated with lower scores in Variability domain. The association between impaired kidney function and history of fall was present only in participants with lower gait scores [odds ratio (95% CI): ACR: 1.34 (1.09-1.65); eGFR: 1.58 (1.07-2.33)].
Conclusions: We observed a graded association between lower kidney function and impaired gait suggesting that individuals with decreased kidney function, even at an early stage, need to be evaluated for gait abnormalities and might benefit from fall prevention programmes.