Background: Although it is recognised that the dialysis population is ageing rapidly, geriatric complications such as falls are poorly appreciated, despite the many risk factors for falls in this population. The objective of this study was to determine the incidence, complications and risk factors for falls in an elderly dialysis population.
Methods: A one-year observational study of chronic dialysis patients aged ≥ 70 years. At baseline, patient characteristics were noted and during follow-up the vital parameters and laboratory values were recorded. Patients were questioned weekly about falls, fall circumstances and consequences by trained nurses.
Results: 49 patients were included with a median age of 79.3 years (70-89 years). During follow-up 40 fall accidents occurred in 27 (55%) patients. Falls resulted in fractures in 15% of cases and in hospital admissions in 15%. In haemodialysis (HD) patients, the mean systolic blood pressure (SBP) before HD was lower in fallers compared with non-fallers (130 vs. 143 mmHg). Several patients in the lower blood pressure category received antihypertensive medication. For every 5 mmHg lower SBP (before HD) the fall risk increased by 30% (hazard ratio (HR) 1.30, 95% CI 1.03-1.65, p = 0.03). Furthermore, fall risk increased by 22% for every 10 pmol/l rise of parathyroid hormone (HR 1.22, 95% CI 1.06-1.39, p = 0.004). Conclusions: Elderly dialysis patients have a high incidence of falls accompanied by a high fracture rate. Given the high complication rate, elderly patients at risk of falling should be identified and managed. Reduction of blood pressurelowering medication might be a treatment strategy to reduce falls.