A new study shows elderly women with chronic diseases may be at risk for experiencing dangerous falls.
Researchers studied more than 4,000 women between ages 60 and 79. The women were asked if they had fallen in the last 12 months, how many times they had fallen, and whether they received any medical attention for the falls.
They also brought all their current medications to the interview and gave a full drug history report.
Results of the study show nearly three quarters of the women questioned suffered from at least one chronic illness. Nearly 17 percent of the women had fallen at least once in the previous year, 7 percent experienced frequent falls, and 6.8 percent required medical attention after falling. Those with chronic diseases had more than a 30-percent risk of falling. Circulatory disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, and arthritis were among the chronic illnesses reported and were associated with higher odds of falling.
More than 70 percent of the women were taking at least one drug and more than 15 percent were taking five or more drugs at the time of the study. However, researchers found no link between the number of drugs used and falling. Only sedatives and anti-depressants were associated with an increased risk of falling.
Researchers of the study concluded, "Chronic diseases may increase the risk of falls through direct effects of the disease and indirect effects, such as reduced physical activity, muscle weakness, and poor balance."