Emotional Stress Can Trigger Falls

December 2017

Ageing

Country of origin: Sweden

Sudden emotions may interfere with mechanisms for keeping balance among the elderly. The aim of a recent study was to analyse if emotional stress and specifically feelings of anger, sadness, worries, anxiety or stress, can trigger falls leading to hip or pelvic fracture among autonomous older people.

The study applied the case-crossover design and was based on data gathered by face to face interviews carried out in Stockholm between November 2004 and January 2006 at the emergency wards of two hospitals. Cases were defined as persons aged 65 and older admitted for at least one night due to a fall-related hip or pelvic fracture and meeting a series of selection criteria. Results are presented as relative risks with 95% confidence intervals.

There was an increased risk for fall and subsequent hip or pelvic fracture for up to one hour after emotional stress. For anger there was an increased relative risk of 12.2, for sadness of 5.7, and for stress 20.6 compared to periods with no such feelings.

The research concludes that emotional stress seems to have the potential to trigger falls and subsequent hip or pelvic fracture among autonomous older people. Further studies are needed to clarify how robust the findings are ? as the number of exposed cases is small ? and the mechanisms behind them ? presumably balance and vision impairment in stress situation.

The complete article is available online.

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