There are several medical conditions which can impact your balance and increase your fall risk. By no means was I able to include EVERY disease which can contribute to falls. I did, however, try to touch on a wide variety of the most common conditions that threaten to knock you on your butt.
Heart Disease and Congestive Heart Failure
- Heart disease can impact your exercise tolerance, and with advance disease, it can even lead to fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness, and problems with balance during vigorous activities.
- Abnormal heartbeats (known as arrhythmias) can affect your heart’s ability to pump efficiently. This can lead to light-headedness, loss of consciousness, and falls. One study found that people who have a relatively common arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation were twice as likely to fall compared to those with normal heartbeats.
- Low blood pressure (hypotension) from heart disease, medications, illness, or dehydration can also increase your fall risk.
- Those who have experienced a stroke may experience muscle weakness or paralysis, sensory imbalance, and an increased fall risk.
- Parkinson’s disease often leads to stiff muscles, slow movements, and a hunched over posture. Studies have indicated that those with Parkinson’s disease are less able to regain their balance during a stumble, and are more likely to experience falls.
- Other nerve diseases, including multiple sclerosis, neuropathy from diabetes, and countless others have all been associated with falls.
- Lung disease, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, and others may lead to shortness of breath, light-headedness, loss of consciousness, and falls. One study showed that nearly one-third of people with COPD experienced at least 1 fall during a 6 month period, which is significantly higher than those without lung disease.
- Your sense of vision allows you to identify obstacles that can threaten your balance. Those with cataracts, glaucoma, and other conditions which cause poor eyesight may have difficulty with judging distance and avoiding obstacles. Some eye conditions can also impact night vision.
- Joint disease, including arthritis, can lead to joint stiffness, pain, and joint catching/locking which can cause your legs to buckle beneath you.