Human Performance and Biodynamics Lab

Assessing Balance, Gait, and Falls in Elderly African-Americans with Hypertension

Assessing Balance, Gait, and Falls in Elderly African-Americans with Hypertension

Normal age related and age associated changes in the cardiovascular system are contributors to hypertensive diseases in the elderly. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) shows that elderly African-Americans demonstrate a higher occurrence of hypertension (66.9%) as compared to all adults age 65 and older (50.1%). Additionally, these changes contribute to increased fall risk among the elderly such that greater than one-third of those age 65 and older experience falls annually. Blood pressure changes associated with hypertension contribute to decreased brain and muscle tissue perfusion which, in turn, increases the risk of falls in the elderly. The primary objective of this study is to decrease the number of falls in community dwelling elderly African-Americans with hypertension. The effect of falls can include physical limitations, increased cost of care or even death. This study will help with identification of those elderly African-Americans who are at high risk for falls. This study will offer a basis for developing fall prevention programs to help community dwelling elderly African-Americans maintain independent living and a better quality of life for as long as possible.

This 2 year pilot study; (6/2009 – 5/2011) coordinated by Judy Foxworth, PT, PhD, OCS is funded ($70,000) by the Center for Research to Improve Minority Health and Eliminate Health Disparities through an EXPORT grant (NIH 5P20 MD002303-03).

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