People aged 65 or more who regularly exercise and take vitamin D supplements have a significantly lower risk of falling down compared to other seniors, researchers from Drexel University School of Public Health, USA wrote in an article published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Yvonne Michael said:
- "Our evidence review shows that exercise and Vitamin D supplementation are the most effective primary care interventions to prevent falls. This is important news because falls are extremely common in this population and they are the leading cause of death and injury for the elderly. We need to help primary care clinicians find better ways to prevent falls, and this review will help to do that."
Exercise reviewThe research team, led by Dr. Michael gathered and evaluated data from 18 clinical trials involving almost 4,000 seniors - all the trials concentrated on exercise and physical therapy (UK: physiotherapy). In some cases participants were involved in Thai Chi session, while others had individualized exercise lessons in their own home.
Most of the exercises focused on better gait, balance, strength and flexibility required for everyday activities. Most of the studies did not show any significantly statistical difference, however, when grouped together there was a 13% lower falling risk compared to individuals who did not exercises.
Vitamin D reviewThey looked at 9 clinical trials involving nearly 6,000 individuals who received daily Vitamin D oral supplements, some with and some without calcium. Dosages ranged from 10 to 1,000 IUs per day. Just one intramuscular injection of 600,000 IUs of Vitamin D was administered in one study. The trials ranged in length from 8 weeks to 3 years.
The trials, taken together, showed a 17% lower risk of falling down compared to other seniors who did not receive vitamin D.
No significant reduction in risk was observed with other interventions, such as vision correction, medication assessment, education and behavioral counseling, and making the home less hazardous.
The authors wrote:
- However, interventions that provided comprehensive risk assessment and management did reduce the risk of falling by 11%. In these trials - called multifactorial assessment and management interventions - health care providers evaluated and managed multiple risk factors including medication use, visual problems, home environment and gait and balance issues. In many of the successful trials, home health nurses or case managers developed an individual tailored approach specifically for that participant.
For example, the nurse might conduct a home visit to remove obstacles, help the patient enroll in an exercise class to improve balance, and help the patient get in to see an ophthalmologist to address a vision problem.
Yvonne L. Michael, ScD, SM; Evelyn P. Whitlock, MD, MPH; Jennifer S. Lin, MD, MCR; Rongwei Fu, PhD; Elizabeth A. O'Connor, PhD; and Rachel Gold, PhD, MPH
Annals of Internal Medicine December 20, 2010 vol. 153 no. 12 815-825
Written by Christian Nordqvist