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Preventing and Managing Falls in Adults with Cardiovascular Disease: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association

October 19, 2022

Daniel E. Forman, MD, chair of Geriatric Cardiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, led a group of national experts in producing an official scientific statement on behalf of the American Heart Association Cardiovascular Disease in Older Populations Committee of the Council on Clinical Cardiology and Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing, the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health, and the Stroke Council.


This team assessed the evaluation, prevention, and management of falls among individuals with cardiovascular disease (CVD).


It is believed that falls and the risk of falling is an area not well understood by clinicians, making it an issue that is often underestimated in clinical practice. Previous data from patient surveys and medical records show that falls or risks for falling occurred in 40% to 60% of individuals with CVD.


Therefore, the purpose of this scientific statement was to highlight the prevalence of falls and the risk of falls among individuals with CVD. Researchers explain that falls are a major health issue among individuals with CVD, which leads to high injury rates, high medical care costs, and significant negative impact on quality of life for these individuals.


The research team explored six main risk factors for falls in adults with CVD. Certain medications, orthostatic hypotension, syncope, frailty and sarcopenia, sensory impairment and musculoskeletal problems, and cognitive impairment are all associated with falls.


For preventing and managing falls in CVD patients, researchers recommended that health care professionals carefully review medications that increase fall risk, address cardiovascular risk factors for falling, and develop referral links to physical and occupational therapists and other health care team members who can act on other identified fall risks.


Ultimately, falls and the risk for falling pose significant problems for adults with CVD. Researchers believe that cardiology teams should inquire about falls in adults with CVD during routine examines and conduct basic assessments to identify the causes of falls and risks for falls among their patients.


This is a highly prevalent issue that needs to be better understood and managed from a clinical perspective in order to reduce the occurrence of injuries, limit financial burdens of care, and improve overall quality of life among patients.


Read the full scientific statement here.