Introduction: People with diabetes could have an increased risk of falls as they show more complications, morbidity and use of medication compared to the general population. This study aimed to estimate the risk of falls and to identify risk factors associated with falls in people with diabetes. The second aim was to estimate fall-related injuries, such as lesions and fractures, including their anatomic localization in people with diabetes compared with the general population.
Methods: From the Danish National Patient Register, we identified people with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) (n=12,975) Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) (n=407,009). The cohort was divided into two groups, with respective control groups matched on age and sex (1:1). All episodes of people hospitalized with a first fall from 1996 to 2017 were analyzed using a Cox proportional-hazards model. Risk factors such as age, sex, diabetic complications, a history of alcohol abuse and the use of medication were included in an adjusted analysis. The incidence rate, incidence rate difference and incidence rate ratio (IRR) of falls and the anatomic localization of fall-related injuries as lesions and fractures were identified.
Results and Discussion: The cumulative incidence, of falls requiring hospital treatment, was 13.3% in T1D, 11.9% in T2D. In the adjusted analysis, T1D and T2D were associated with a higher risk of falls [T1D, Hazard Ratio (HR): 1.33 (95% CI: 1.25 - 1.43), T2D, HR: 1.19 (95% CI:1.16 - 1.22), respectively]. Women [group 1, HR 1.21 (CI:95%:1.13 - 1.29), group 2, HR 1.61 (CI:95%:1.58-1.64)], aged >65 years [groups 1, HR 1.52 (CI:95%:1.39 - 1.61), group 2, HR 1.32 (CI:95%:1.58-1.64)], use of selective serotonin receptor inhibitors (SSRI) [group 1, HR 1.35 (CI:95%:1.1.30 - 1.40), group 2, HR 1.32 (CI:95%:1.27-1.38)], opioids [group 1, HR 1.15 (CI:95%:1.12 - 1.19), group 2, HR 1.09 (CI:95%:1.05-1.12)] and a history of alcohol abuse [group 1, HR 1.77 (CI:95%:1.17 - 2.15), group 2, HR 1.88 (CI:95%:1.65-2.15)] were significantly associated with an increased risk of falls in both groups. The IRR of fall-related injuries as hip, radius, humerus and skull/facial fractures were higher in people with T2D than controls [IRR 1.02 (CI:95%:1.01-1.04), IRR 1.39 (CI:95%: 1.18-1.61), IRR 1.24 (CI:95%: 1.12-1.37) and IRR 1.15 (CI:95%:1.07-1.24)]. People with T1D had a higher IRR of hip fractures than controls [IRR: 1.11 (CI:95%:1.02 – 1.23)].
Conclusion: People with diabetes have an increased risk of first fall and a higher incidence of fall- related injuries, including fractures. Advanced aging and sex are non-modifiable risk factors, whereas diabetes, the use of SSRIs and opioids and alcohol abuse could be potentially modifiable risk factors for falls. Gaining information on risk factors for falls could guide the management of diabetes treatment, i.e., choice of drugs, which enables us to improve treatment, particularly in people with a high risk of falls and fractures associated with high mortality.
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