Men over the age of 65 who suffer stressful events such as the death of a partner or financial woes are more likely to have a fall, new research has suggested.
Experts analysed data for almost 5,000 men in six locations across the US and found that those who experienced a stressful life event were 41% more likely to fall in the following year and 68% more likely to experience multiple falls.
The men were asked if they had suffered a stressful event from a list including serious illness, a loved one having an accident, death of a loved one, or separation from a child, close friend or other relative they depended on for help.
Other anxieties included losing a pet, serious financial trouble or moving house. Data was then collected on falls in the subsequent year.
First study of its kind
Dr Howard Fink, of the VA medical centre in Minneapolis, and his team found falls occurred in 30% of cases where men reported one type of stressful event; 36% of cases with two types of stressful event and 40% of cases where three or more types of stressful life events were reported.
Writing online in the journal Age and Ageing, Dr Fink said: “To my knowledge, this is the first prospective study to examine the independent association between stressful life events and the risk of falls in community-dwelling older men.
“We believe it provides the strongest evidence to date supporting stressful life events as a risk factor for falls.”
Fall risk theories
Dr Fink said further studies are needed to show why stress raises the risk of falls. It could be because it causes stress hormones to be released, or inflammation caused by physical stress could lead to poorer function.
Or it could be that sudden emotions affect the ability to maintain balance or to see properly.
Source: Medicine Net
Date Published: September 5, 2013
Author: David Brown