Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fall Risk in Elderly Could Be Cut Down; Liver Disease Link May Save NHS Cash

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fall Risk in Elderly Could Be Cut Down; Liver Disease Link May Save NHS Cash

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae

LEADING scientists in the North East have discovered a link between liver disease and the number of falls in the elderly, which they believe could save the NHS millions of pounds.

The findings by experts at Newcastle University show patients suffering from Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC) are more than twice as likely to fall as non sufferers.

The study - which is published in the current edition of the Quarterly Journal of Medicine - looked at patients suffering from PBC.

Of those, 72% had suffered at least one fall; 55% had a fall in the past year and 22% were regular fallers. In each case this was more than double the rate for people who do not have the condition.

It is believed abnormalities in blood pressure control, poor balance and muscle weakness are causing the problems.

And experts say addressing postural dizziness, poor balance and lower limb weakness could reduce falls, injuries and deaths.

They believe a doctor, physiotherapist and occupational therapist should work together with one patient to address the issue of falls to help curb the problem.

Dr James Frith, clinical research associate who led the study, said: "Falls cause serious injuries to thousands of people every year.

"Now we have found this link we may be able to offer treatments to patients who are high risk and hopefully stop some of these falls from happening in the first place. A fall can cause huge emotional issues as well as the physical problems. People lose their confidence and independence after they fall.

"It appears that people with PBC are falling as a result of abnormal regulation of their blood pressure. There is a strong link between PBC and blood pressure regulation. In addition falls also appear to be related to abnormal gait and balance, which is probably a result of abnormalities in the system which controls blood pressure.

A recent piece of research suggested that many older women would prefer to die than suffer a broken hip, which would leave them feeling vulnerable and stop them living their life. …

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