Neuropathological Correlates of Falling in the CC75C Population-Based Sample of the Older Old
Background: Previous imaging studies have suggested links between brain pathologies and factors that are associated with falls such as gait, balance and daily function. Possible neuropathological correlates of older people’s falls have been suggested based on brain imaging studies, but to date none have been examined in brain tissue. Methods: Falls data collected from repeated surveys of a population-based cohort of individuals aged at least 75 years old at baseline were related to neuropathological data collected from post-mortem examination of the study’s associated brain donor collection (n=212). Results: Amongst people without dementia, most cerebrovascular neuropathological features examined, particularly white matter pallor, microinfarcts and microscopic atherosclerosis, were increasingly common across the subgroups categorised by no reports of falling, only one or at least two reports of falling. The overall burden of pathology was greater in those with dementia, but only microinfarcts showed a similar increase with respect to reported falling status. Conclusions: Subclinical pathologies sharing a common vascular origin are associated with increased falling amongst people with no dementia, as are microinfarcts in those with dementia. Although further research is needed to address the mechanisms of falls and their neuropathological correlates, the findings from the current study would suggest that if cerebrovascular disease prevention reduces vascular neuropathology changes this may have direct benefits in reducing falls amongst older people with or without dementia.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: July 1, 2012
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