Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Department

Sport Sciences

First Advisor

Courtney D. Jensen

First Committee Member

Mark VanNess

Second Committee Member

Lewis E. Jacobsen

Abstract

Background: In the United States, 30-60% of older adults fall each year; 10-20% of these falls result in injury, hospitalization, or even death. Better prevention of falls in this population may be facilitated by broader identification of risk factors. The use of statins has emerged as a potential risk factor, but the data provide conflicted results.

Purpose: To examine the relationship between statin use and falls among community-dwelling older adults.

Methods: We evaluated the patient registry of a Level 1 trauma center. All patients aged > 50 years who were admitted for falls in 2015 were included (n=615). Many of these patients had been previously admitted for falls and many were later readmitted for falls. We analyzed predictors of both prior admission and readmission with linear regressions. Independent variables were self-reported balance problems, diagnosis of dementia, and the use of statins.

Results: On average, patients admitted for falls were 79.9 + 9.3 years old and 28% (n=173) were taking statins. Our collection of predictors explained 14.2% of the variance in the number of prior admissions (p<0.001). In this model, the use of statins significantly predicted the number of previous fall-related admissions (95% CI: 0.07–0.50, p=0.010). This same model maintained its significance when predicting admissions for future falls (p<0.001) and the use of statins continued to predict a greater number of readmissions (95% CI: 0.04–0.36, p=0.015).

Conclusion: More than 25% of all Americans age > 40 years are taking cholesterol-lowering medication; 93% of those medications are statins. Although evidence is conflicted, these data support the finding that statin therapy increases the risk of falls in older adults. Incorporating exercise training as a prophylactic measure: enhancing lipid profiles and decreasing the need for statins while also improving balance, coordination, and mobility, may reduce fall-related injuries.

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