Prevention of falls in the elderly is a major health care target. There are theoretical reasons why older dialysis patients may be at high risk of falls: co-morbidity, medication, and post-dialysis hypotension, which have not been well tested. Dialysis patients are also at higher risk of fracture if they do fall.
We prospectively interviewed all our centre haemodialysis patients over a 6 month period to see if they reported falls, syncope, pre-syncope or dizziness. Routine blood pressure (BP) and other clinical data were recorded.
A total of 78 patients completed the study. There was a high incidence of all four symptoms but only falls was age-related. About 38% of patients aged >65 reported 1 or more fall compared to 4% of younger patients (p < 0.001). There were no significant differences in pre-dialysis, post-dialysis or standing BP between young and older patients or between fallers and non-fallers although the older patients did have a greater magnitude in change between pre-dialysis BP and post-dialysis standing BP.
Older haemodialysis patients have a high incidence of falls. Falls can be prevented by addressing modifiable risk factors. Whether existing guidelines are applicable to this specialised population is uncertain. There is a high incidence of syncope in dialysis patients of all ages and the cause of this needs further exploration.
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Roberts, R., Jeffrey, C., Carlisle, G. et al. Prospective investigation of the incidence of falls, dizziness and syncope in haemodialysis patients. Int Urol Nephrol 39, 275–279 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11255-006-9088-3
- Blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Orthostatic hypotension