The purpose of this study was to determine whether lower-extremity peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is an independent risk factor for falls among older persons. Men and women 55 years old and older participated. Subjects with PAD (n = 86) were identified from a noninvasive vascular laboratory and a general medicine practice. Randomly selected controls without PAD (n = 82) were identified from the same medicine practice. Subjects were categorized into PAD (ankle brachial index, <0.90) or controls (ankle brachial index, 0.90 to 1.50). Subjects underwent a comprehensive baseline evaluation for fall risk. Prospective fall data were obtained using monthly mail-in postcards and structured telephone interviews over a mean follow-up of 9.6 ± 2.9 months. Two independent investigators blinded to PAD status reviewed each fall incident for its eligibility. A total of 37 subjects (22%) had at least 1 eligible fall. In an unadjusted Cox regression model, the relative risk of falling was lower among PAD subjects than among controls (relative risk, 0.54; 95% confidence interval, 0.28 to 1.06). After adjustment for age, gender, history of frequent falls in the last year, number of comorbidities, and balance and gait abnormalities, PAD was significantly associated with a lower risk of falling (relative risk, 0.43; 95% confidence interval, 0.21 to 0.87) as compared with controls. PAD is associated with a lower risk of falling as compared with persons without PAD among older men and women. Future study is needed to determine whether reduced levels of physical activity among patients with PAD account for the lower rate of falling observed here.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine