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Minerva Medica 2021 Sep 13

DOI: 10.23736/S0026-4806.21.07749-1

Copyright © 2021 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Unexplained falls in the elderly

Martina RAFANELLI, Enrico MOSSELLO, Giuseppe D. TESTA, Andrea UNGAR

Syncope Unit, Department of Geriatrics and Intensive Care Unit, Careggi Hospital, University of Florence, Florence, Italy


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Falls are a geriatric syndrome affecting mortality, morbidity, and institutionalization. Falls are also the leading cause of unintentional injury and a common emergency department presentation. Physical and psychological issues may develop after falling, leading to increase in dependency and disability and their relative costs. The pathogenesis of falls is multi-factorial, being indeed the result of the interaction between increased individual susceptibility, high risk activities and environmental hazards. The patient should be evaluated for gait, standing balance, mobility, muscle weakness, cognitive status, osteoporosis risk, sensorial impairment, urinary incontinence, functional status, and for possible residential environmental hazards. It is also mandatory to obtain a full report of the circumstances and a careful therapeutic recognition. However not all falls are explainable. Indeed, retrograde amnesia and the frequent absence of a witness complicate history collection of falls in older adults. In this case, “the management of unexplained falls should be the same as that for unexplained syncope” as stated by the latest version of the European Society of Cardiology guidelines on syncope. In this context, the investigation of the cardiovascular autonomic nervous system and the use of implantable loop recorder have an increasing role. The present paper addresses the diagnostic approach to falls in older adults through a comprehensive multifactorial risk assessment and examines evidence and gaps on fall prevention strategies.


KEY WORDS: Fall; Unexplained falls; Syncope; Syncopal falls

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