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Mortality from Falls in the Elderly

JAMA reports that there is a trend of increasing mortality from falls in older US adults between 2000 to 2016 and that mortality rates are increased with increasing age. 

In 2014, nearly 29% of elderly (> 65 yrs.) adults suffered a fall, thereby increasing their risk of morbidity, mortality, and rising health care costs.  Risk factors for falls include age, medication use, poor balance, and chronic conditions (e.g., depression, diabetes).  This study examined mortality from falls for the US population aged 75 years or older between 2000 and 2016.

Data on deaths from falls were extracted from the US National Vital Statistics System mortality files. Numbers of deaths from falls were specified for age and sex. Age-specific mortality rates were calculated in 5 age groups (75-79, 80-84, 85-89, 90-94, and ≥95 years).

Between 2000 and 2016, the number of deaths from falls among US adults (>75 years)increased from 8613 to 25 189. The crude mortality rate more than doubled from 51.6 (95% CI, 50.5-52.7) per 100 000 persons in 2000 to 122.2 (95% CI, 120.7-123.7) per 100 000 persons in 2016. 

Age-adjusted mortality rates rose with age such that, in 2016, those aged 75 to 79 years old experienced a rate of 42.1 deaths per 100 000 compared with 590.7 deaths per 100 000 in persons aged 95 years or older.

The circumstances behind the increasing trends in mortality from falls are not fully understood. Future studies should focus on explaining the recent increase in mortality from falls, especially among the oldest age groups and what can be done to curtail these trends. 

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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