Community-dwelling older people with an injurious fall are likely to sustain new injurious falls within 5 years

Fall-related injuries in older people are a common cause of morbidity and mortality. Self-reported fall events in the last year is often used to estimate fall risk in older people. However, whether the fall frequency and the consequences of the falls have an impact on the risk for subsequent injurious falls in the long term needs to be investigated. The objective of this study was to investigate if a history of one single non-injurious fall, at least two non-injurious falls, or at least one injurious fall within 12 months raised the risk of sustaining future injurious falls. Community-dwelling individuals 75-93 years of age (n = 230) were initially followed prospectively with monthly calendars reporting falls over a period of 12 months. The participants were classified into four groups based on the number and type of falls (0, 1, ≥2 non-injurious falls, and ≥1 injurious fall of severity sufficient to cause a visit to a hospital emergency department). The participants were then followed for several years (mean time 5.0 years ±1.1) regarding injurious falls requiring a visit to the emergency department. The Andersen-Gill method of Cox regression for multiple events was used to estimate the risk of injurious falls. During the long-term follow-up period, thirty per cent of the participants suffered from at least one injurious fall. Those with a self-reported history of at least one injurious fall during the first 12 months follow-up period exhibited a significantly higher risk for sustaining subsequent injurious falls in the long term (hazard ratio 2.78; 95% CI, 1.40-5.50) compared to those with no falls. No other group showed an increased risk.

In community-dwelling people over 75 years of age, a history of at least one self-reported injurious fall severe enough to cause a visit to the emergency department within a period of 12 months suggests an increased risk of sustaining future injurious falls. Our results support the recommendations to offer a multifactorial fall-risk assessment coupled with sufficient interventions to community-dwelling people over 75 years who present to the ED due to an injurious fall.

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