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Aging Clin Exp Res. 2012 Aug;24(4):317-23.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is a common cause of dizziness and unsteadiness in a large population of 75-year-olds.

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Department of Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden.



Studies have shown that 65% of people with dizziness may have a vestibular etiologic diagnosis, possibly benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). The diagnosis of BPPV is based on medical history and findings after the Dix-Hallpike test. It is sometimes difficult to perform the Dix-Hallpike test in elderly persons, due to the limited range of motion when extending the neck. In this study, we used a side-lying test to stimulate the posterior semicircular canal, while the head and neck were fully supported on the examination table. The aims of this study were to investigate the prevalence of dizziness and/or impaired balance and BPPV in a population of 75-year-olds by means of a questionnaire and clinical tests, and to compare elderly persons with and without BPPV.


A representative population sample of 675 persons completed a questionnaire about dizziness and 571 persons underwent side-lying, static balance and dynamic walking tests.


Subjective dizziness and/or impaired balance were found in 36% of subjects, especially when walking outdoors. A significant gender difference was found, with a higher prevalence in women (40%) compared with men (30%) (p<0.01). BPPV was found in 11% and was significantly more common in women (p<0.01). Elderly individuals with BPPV also displayed significantly impaired balance in static and dynamic balance tests compared with persons without BPPV (p<0.01). Persons with BPPV reported significantly more sub- jective problems with dizziness and balance compared with persons without BPPV (p<0.001).


Subjective and objective unsteadiness, dizziness and BP- PV are common in the elderly.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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