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September 2022

Heart Troubles Increase Your Risk for Falls

 

When you’re first diagnosed with a heart condition, you’re likely to talk with your healthcare provider about lifestyle changes and medicines. But there’s another issue you might want to discuss: your risk of falling.

Falls are common among people with heart disease. Research estimates that 60% of adults with heart disease are at a moderate to high risk for falls. And as the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide, falls are more than just an accident—they pose a serious threat.

What leads to falls

A report from the American Heart Association looks at some of the reasons having a heart condition can put you at a greater risk for falls. These include:

  • Medicines. Medicines you’re taking to control heart disease could disrupt your balance, making you more likely to fall. They can also cause dry eyes or blurry vision, affecting your coordination.

  • Low blood pressure. Your risk for orthostatic hypotension, a type of low blood pressure that happens when you stand up, increases if you have heart disease. This can contribute to falls.

  • Decreased muscle mass. Sarcopenia, the loss of muscular strength, is common among people with heart disease. Strong muscles help you walk better and keep your balance.

  • Cognitive impairment. More than 40% of adults with heart disease have trouble with mental tasks such as remembering, thinking quickly, and processing information. This can be a factor in making mistakes with your medicine or tripping on something in your home.

An open conversation

Not only is falling dangerous, but the fear of falling can be limiting. If you’re worried that you’re not steady on your feet, you may become less active. This can affect your quality of life and weaken your bones and muscles, increasing your chances of falling.

Often, people who fall are embarrassed to bring it up. If you have fallen, or are afraid of falling, discuss it with your healthcare provider. They can review your medicines and help you address other issues that could raise your risk for falls.

Consider fall prevention just as important as everything else you’re doing to keep your heart healthy.

 

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2022
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