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15-02-2011 | Respiratory | Article

Falls common in COPD patients


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MedWire News: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are highly susceptible to falls, possibly because of reduced activity levels due to dyspnea, results from a Canadian study show.

The findings, published in the journal Respiratory Medicine, indicate that fall prevention strategies are needed for patients with the respiratory condition, say Marc Roig (University of British Columbia, Vancouver) and team.

To investigate the incidence, risk factors, and impact of falls on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in COPD patients, the team studied 101 individuals with the condition who were aged 69.6-79.1 years and had an average FEV1 of 46.4% of the predicted value.

All of the patients completed the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 (SF-36), the Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire (CRQ), and the Activities Balance Confidence (ABC) Scale at baseline and after 6 months.

They were also assessed for physical activity at baseline using the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE), and data on demographics, medication and oxygen use, comorbidities, exacerbations, and fall history were collected.

Monthly diaries kept by the patients over the 6-month follow-up period revealed that 32 (31.7%) suffered at least one fall. Of these, nine (28.1%) reported two or three falls, and four (12.5%) participants reported four falls.

The main factors that predicted falls were a previous history of falls (odds ratio [OR]=7.36) and the presence of coronary heart disease (OR=7.07). Other predictive factors included older age, female gender, and the use of oxygen.

The researchers also found that patients who experienced falls during the follow-up period had significantly lower scores on the dyspnea domain of the CRQ at 6 months compared with non-fallers, at 4.5 versus 5.0.

There was also a trend toward lower total scores on the CRQ, and lower scores on the physical domains of the SF-36 at 6 months in fallers compared with non-fallers, although the differences were nonsignificant.

Roig and team conclude: "People with COPD have a high incidence rate of falls that is associated with a decline in dyspnea-related activities associated with HRQoL."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Mark Cowen

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