Orthostatic Hypotension in Middle-Age and Risk of Falls

Stephen P. Juraschek, Natalie Daya, Lawrence J. Appel, Edgar R. Miller, Beverly Gwen Windham, Lisa Pompeii, Michael E. Griswold, Anna Kucharska-Newton, Elizabeth Selvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND One-third of older adults fall each year. Orthostatic hypotension (OH) has been hypothesized as an important risk factor for falls, but findings from prior studies have been inconsistent. METHODS We conducted a prospective study of the association between baseline OH (1987–1989) and risk of falls in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. Falls were ascertained during follow-up via ICD-9 hospital discharge codes or Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services claims data. OH was defined as a drop in systolic blood pressure (SBP) ≥20 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) ≥10 mm Hg within 2 minutes of moving from the supine to standing position. Changes in SBP or DBP during OH assessments were also examined as continuous variables. RESULTS During a median follow-up of 23 years, there were 2,384 falls among 12,661 participants (mean age 54 years, 55% women, 26% black). OH was associated with risk of falls even after adjustment for demographic characteristics and other risk factors (hazard ratio (HR): 1.30; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.10, 1.54; P = 0.002). Postural change in DBP was more significantly associated with risk of falls (HR 1.09 per −5 mm Hg change in DBP; 95% CI: 1.05, 1.13; P < 0.001) than postural change in SBP (HR 1.03 per −5 mm Hg change in SBP; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.05; P = 0.002). CONCLUSIONS In a community-based, middle-aged population, OH, and in particular, postural change in DBP, were independent risk factors for falls over 2 decades of follow-up. Future studies are needed to examine OH thresholds associated with increased risk of falls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-195
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Hypertension
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • ARIC
  • blood pressure
  • epidemiology
  • fall
  • hypertension
  • orthostatic hypotension
  • prospective cohort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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