University of Oulu

Immonen, M., Haapea, M., Similä, H. et al. Association between chronic diseases and falls among a sample of older people in Finland. BMC Geriatr 20, 225 (2020).

Association between chronic diseases and falls among a sample of older people in Finland

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Author: Immonen, Milla1,2; Haapea, Marianne2,3,4; Similä, Heidi1;
Organizations: 1VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. Kaitoväylä 1, P.O.Box 1100, FI-90571, Oulu, Finland
2Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 5000, FI-90014, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Oulu University Hospital, Kajaanintie 50, FI-90220, Oulu, Finland
4Medical Research Centre Oulu (MRC), Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, P.O. Box 5000, FI-90014, Oulu, Finland
5Information Studies, University of Oulu, P.O.Box 8000, FI-90014, Oulu, Finland
6Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 5000, FI-90014, Oulu, Finland
7Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Oulu Deaconess Institute Foundation sr, Albertinkatu 16, FI-90100, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-08-18


Background/Objectives: Falls are a major problem for older people and recurrent fallers are especially prone to severe consequences due to falls. This study investigated the association between chronic conditions and falls.

Methods: Responses from 872 older persons (age 65–98) to a health questionnaire were used in the analyses. Characteristics and disease prevalence between recurrent fallers, one-time fallers and non-fallers were compared. A hierarchical clustering method was applied to find combinations of chronic conditions that were associated with recent recurrent falling.

Results: The results showed that recurrent fallers had a higher number of diseases (median 4, interquartile range, IQR = 2.0–5.0) compared to non-fallers (median 2, IQR = 1.0–3.0). Eight clusters were formed based on the data. The participants in the low chronic disease cluster were younger, more physically active, not frail, and had fewer geriatric conditions. Multiple chronic disease cluster participants were older, less physically active, overweight (body mass index, BMI > 30), at risk of malnutrition, and had more geriatric conditions. Significantly increased risk of recurrent falls relative to the low chronic cluster was found for respondents in the osteoporosis cluster and multiple chronic disease cluster (OR = 5.65, 95% confidence interval CI: 1.23–25.85, p = 0.026, and OR = 13.42, 95% CI: 2.47–72.96,  = 0.002, respectively). None of the clusters were associated with increased risk of one-time falling.

Conclusions: The results implicate that the number of chronic diseases is related with risk of recurrent falling. Furthermore, the results implicate the potential of identifying certain combinations of chronic diseases that increase fall risk by analyzing health record data, although further studies are needed with a larger population sample.

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Series: BMC geriatrics
ISSN: 1471-2318
ISSN-E: 1471-2318
ISSN-L: 1471-2318
Volume: 20
Article number: 225
DOI: 10.1186/s12877-020-01621-9
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3121 General medicine, internal medicine and other clinical medicine
Funding: The GASEL project was supported by Business Finland (during the project known as Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation) and University of Oulu. Additionally, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. supported writing the manuscript.
Dataset Reference: Additional file 1
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