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IDSA: Infections May Be the Underlying Cause of Many Falls

Illness can lower blood pressure, lead to dizziness, researchers say

FRIDAY, Oct. 9, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Patients treated in the emergency department for a fall may be there due to an underlying infection, a new study suggests. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDWeek), held from Oct. 7 to 11 in San Diego.

The study involved 161 patients treated in the emergency department for a fall who were later diagnosed with an underlying infection. Urinary, bloodstream, and respiratory infections were the most common culprits.

The falls were most common among older people, but 20 percent of the patients were younger than 65. Initially, infection wasn't suspected in four out of 10 patients. Less than two criteria for systemic inflammatory response syndrome were present in 90 patients (57.7 percent), and coexisting systemic infection was not suspected in 64 patients (40.5 percent). In-hospital mortality was the result in 29 patients (18.0 percent).

"Over the years I've been struck by the fact that some of the more serious infections I treated were in people who came to the hospital because they fell," principal investigator Farrin Manian, M.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said in an IDWeek news release. "Even though many of the patients had vague early signs of an infection, such as weakness or lethargy, it was the fall that brought them in."

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