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Ann Rheum Dis. Nov 2005; 64(11): 1602–1604.
Published online Apr 7, 2005. doi:  10.1136/ard.2004.031195
PMCID: PMC1755283

Occurrence and risk factors for falls in rheumatoid arthritis


Objectives: To determine the one year period prevalence of falls by age and sex in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and the influence of concurrent medical treatment and disability on the occurrence of falls in this group.

Methods: A consecutive series of rheumatoid patients aged 35 years and over, attending hospital outpatient clinics at Hope hospital, Salford, were asked to complete an interview assisted questionnaire which asked about the occurrence and number of falls in the previous 12 months. Subjects who took part were asked about current treatment with antihypertensive agents, diuretics, sedatives or hypnotics, antidepressants, and a history of previous hip/knee surgery. They also completed the health assessment questionnaire (HAQ). Logistic regression was used to determine the association between these variables and falls in the previous 12 months.

Results: 253 men and women, mean age 62 years, were studied, and 84 (33%) reported falling in the previous year (36% of women and 26% of men). Of these, 52% had fallen on more than one occasion. There was no important increase in the frequency of falls with age. After adjusting for age and sex, those who had fallen in the previous year were more likely to report taking antidepressant treatment (odds ratio (OR) = 2.09) and to have impairment in both walking (OR = 1.37) and rising (OR = 1.41). The HAQ score was higher in those who reported a fall than those who did not, though the difference was not statistically significant.

Conclusions: In this hospital based survey, one in three patients with rheumatoid arthritis reported falling in the previous 12 months. Falls were associated with self reported impairment in lower limb function.

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Selected References

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