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Men Older than 50 Yrs Are More Likely to Fall than Women Under Similar Conditions of Health, Body Composition, and Balance

Pereira, Catarina L.N. PhD; Baptista, Fátima PhD; Infante, Paulo PhD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: December 2013 - Volume 92 - Issue 12 - p 1095–1103
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e31829b49eb
Original Research Articles

Objective The aim of this study was to analyze the contribution of sex to the occurrence of falls, accounting for comorbidities and differences in physical fitness.

Design This was a cross-sectional study of 587 community-dwelling adults who were older than 50 yrs. Falls, comorbidities (number of diseases and physical impairments), and physical fitness (body composition, lower and upper body strength and flexibility, agility, aerobic endurance, and balance) were evaluated via questionnaires, bioimpedance, and Fullerton batteries, respectively.

Results Compared with the men, the women presented a 10% higher fall prevalence, 1.7 more diseases/impairments, 10% more body fat, 26% less lean body mass, and poorer physical capacity (P < 0.05). Multivariate logistic regression revealed that male sex (odds ratio [OR], 2.723; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.190–6.230) increased the likelihood of falling, after adjustment for comorbidities (OR, 1.213; 95% CI, 1.109–1.328), lean mass (OR, 0.958; 95% CI, 0.927–0.989), fat mass (OR, 1.053; 95% CI, 1.021–1.086), and balance (OR, 0.942; 95% CI, 0.914–0.971), which were the main risk factors of falls.

Conclusions Women are more susceptible to falling, presumably because they have poorer health and physical fitness than do men. However, when the values for comorbidities, lean and fat body mass, and balance were similar, the men demonstrated a higher probability of falling. Age is not a significant risk factor of falls under favorable conditions of health, body composition, and balance.

From the CIDESD, Department of Sports and Health, University of Evora, Evora, Portugal (CLNP); Exercise and Health Laboratory, Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Human Performance, Faculty of Human Kinetics, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal (FB); and CIMA-UE and ECT/DMAT, University of Evora, Evora, Portugal (PI).

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to: Catarina L.N. Pereira, PhD, CIDESD, Department of Sports and Health, University of Evora, Pavilhão Gimnodesportivo, Rua Reguengos de Monsaraz, 44, 7000–727 Evora, Portugal.

Supported by funds from the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (PhD grant SFRH/BD/31450/2006). The sponsors had no role in the design, analysis, or preparation of this article. Presented, in part, at the 56th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. Financial disclosure statements have been obtained, and no conflicts of interest have been reported by the authors or by any individuals in control of the content of this article.

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins