Diabetes-related complications, glycemic control, and falls in older adults

Ann V. Schwartz, Eric Vittinghoff, Deborah E. Sellmeyer, Kenneth R. Feingold, Nathalie De Rekeneire, Elsa S. Strotmeyer, Ronald I. Shorr, Aaron I. Vinik, Michelle C. Odden, Seok Won Park, Kimberly A. Faulkner, Tamara B. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

295 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE - Older adults with type 2 diabetes are more likely to fall, but little is known about risk factors for falls in this population. We determined whether diabetes-related complications or treatments are associated with risk of falls in older diabetic adults. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS - In the Health, Aging, and Body Composition cohort of well-functioning older adults, participants reported falls in the previous year at annual visits. Odds ratios (ORs) for more frequent falls among 446 diabetic participants whose mean age was 73.6 years, with an average follow-up of 4.9 years, were estimated with continuation ratio models. RESULTS - In the first year, 23% reported falling; 22, 26, 30, and 31% fell in subsequent years. In adjusted models, reduced peroneal nerve response amplitude (OR 1.50 - 95% CI 1.07-2.12], worst quartile versus others); higher cystatin-C, a marker of reduced renal function (1.38 [1.11-1.71], for 1 SD increase); poorer contrast sensitivity (1.41 [0.97-2.04], worst quartile versus others); and low A1C in insulin users (4.36 [1.32-14.46], A1C ≤6 vs. >8%) were associated with risk of falls. In those using oral hypoglycemic medications but not insulin, low A1C was not associated with risk of falls (1.29 [0.65-2.54], A1C ≤6 vs. >8%). Adjustment for physical performance explained some, but not all, of these associations. CONCLUSIONS - In older diabetic adults, reducing diabetes-related complications may prevent falls. Achieving lower A1C levels with oral hypoglycemic medications was not associated with more frequent falls, but, among those using insulin, A1C ≤6% increased risk of falls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-396
Number of pages6
JournalDiabetes care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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