Background: Several risk factors for falls and hip fractures have been recognised, but controversy still exists regarding the importance of rhythm and conduction abnormalities as potentially modifiable risk factors for recurrent falls. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of clinically relevant ECG abnormalities in patients with a hip fracture versus controls. Methods: The study was designed as a case-control study within consecutive hip surgery patients in an academic hospital. Cases: patients with traumatic hip fractures. Controls: patients undergoing planned hip surgery (non-traumatic). Cases and controls were 1:1 matched for age and gender. Inclusion criteria: age ≥ 50 years. Exclusion criteria: high-energy trauma, pathological and/or previous hip fracture. ECGs were scored using predefined categories. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to calculate odds ratios (OR) and to correct for confounders. Results: We included 888 patients (444 cases). Mean age was 70.9 years (SD 9.3), 70% were female. After correction for potential confounders we found the following associations between clinically relevant ECG abnormalities and hip fractures: atrial fibrillation OR 2.7 (95% CI 1.2-6.1), abnormal QTc prolongation OR 3.9 (2.2-6.8), sinus tachycardia OR 5.0 (2.1-11.8) and sinus bradycardia OR 0.3 (0.1-0.5). Univariately, several markers for decreased cardiac function were also associated with hip fractures.
Conclusions: Hip fracture patients are at higher risk for
ECG abnormalities than matched patients undergoing
hip surgery for other indications. To potentially reduce
the risk of future (injurious) falls, increased awareness of
these ECG abnormalities is warranted to assess the need
for further cardiovascular fall risk assessment.