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Sleep Apnea Heightens Risk for Falls Among Elderly Population

Posted On July 15, 2015
July 15, 2015

A resent study created by BMC Geriatrics was looking for the correlation between Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) and the amount of falls an elderly person has. EDS is a change in quality and quantity of nocturnal sleep or other underlying conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea. Falls were defined as an instance ‘when you suddenly find yourself on the ground, without intending to get there, after you were either in a lying, sitting or standing position. 451 men and 367 women ranging from age 60-90 participated in the study.

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale was used to determine if a person had EDS. It is also worth noting that the Epworth scale is a tool used to diagnose sleep apnea sufferers. 13% of the women were diagnosed with EDS and 32% reported at least one fall throughout the testing period. 16% of the men were diagnosed with EDS and 20% reported falls within the testing period. 67% of the participants who reported falls sustained injury. 68.8 % of the injured reported having a bruise, sprain or soft tissue injury while 31.2 reported injury resulting in a fracture.

Once the data had been tabulated, it was evident that over a tenth of the elderly population suffered from EDS and other sleep disorders. Those with EDS were twice as likely to have a fall and 3 times as likely to have a fall resulting in injury. The study also noted men were less likely to report their falls and that the occurrence of falls was much higher than reported.

As we age, so does our risk of developing EDS or other sleep related conditions such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea heightens risk for falls and many other serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder defined as the unconscious stoppage of breathing for short periods of time throughout a night’s sleep. With OSA, there is a soft tissue obstruction of the upper airway, which negatively impacts the flow of air.

Pauses in breathing can be just a few seconds to minutes, and occur as little as five to as many as 30 times per hour. OSA is further characterized as a partial reduction (hypopnea) to complete pauses (apnea) in breathing that can last longer than 10 seconds. Depending upon the number of times per hour these episodes are experienced during the course of a night, the severity is classified as mild, moderate or severe.

If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, been diagnosed or would like to find out how you can avoid the high risk of developing other conditions, contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a consultation.

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