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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
January 3, 2007

Fatalities and Injuries From Falls Among Older Adults—United States, 1993-2003 and 2001-2005

JAMA. 2007;297(1):32-33. doi:10.1001/jama.297.1.32

MMWR. 2006;55:1221-1224

2 tables omitted

Unintentional falls are a common occurrence among older adults, affecting approximately 30% of persons aged ≥65 years each year.1 The injuries received from a fall can result in death, disability, nursing-home admission, and direct medical costs.2,3 In 2003, a total of 13,700 persons aged ≥65 years died from falls, and 1.8 million were treated in emergency departments (EDs) for nonfatal injuries from falls.* Falls cause the majority of hip fractures, which often result in long-term functional impairments that might require admission to a nursing home for a year or more.2 To examine trends in fatal and nonfatal falls among older persons, CDC analyzed U.S. rates of (1) fatalities from falls (during 1993-2003), (2) hospitalizations for hip fractures (1993-2003), and (3) nonfatal injuries resulting from falls in persons treated in EDs (2001-2005). This report summarizes the results of those analyses, which indicated that, during 1993-2003, the overall rate of fatal falls among persons aged ≥65 years increased, and the rate of hospitalizations for hip fractures decreased; during 2001-2005, the change in the overall rate of nonfatal injuries from falls was not statistically significant. However, disparities by sex existed for all three measures. Certain interventions can reduce falls (e.g., exercising regularly or having medicines reviewed to reduce side effects and interactions), but implementation at the community level remains limited,2 and additional measures are needed to promote widespread adoption.