Parkinson Disease and Orthostatic Hypotension in the Elderly: Recognition and Management of Risk Factors for Falls
LeWitt PA, Kymes S, Hauser R. Parkinson Disease and Orthostatic Hypotension in the Elderly: Recognition and Management of Risk Factors for Falls. Aging Dis 2020; 11(3):679-691.
Parkinson disease (PD) is often associated with postural instability and gait dysfunction that can increase the risk for falls and associated consequences, including injuries, increased burden on healthcare resources, and reduced quality of life. Patients with PD have nearly twice the risk for falls and associated bone fractures compared with their general population counterparts of similar age. Although the cause of falls in patients with PD may be multifactorial, an often under-recognized factor is neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH). nOH is a sustained decrease in blood pressure upon standing whose symptomology can include dizziness/lightheadedness, weakness, fatigue, and syncope. nOH is due to dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system compensatory response to standing and is a consequence of the neurodegenerative processes of PD. The symptoms associated with orthostatic hypotension (OH)/nOH can increase the risk of falls, and healthcare professionals may not be aware of the real-world clinical effect of nOH, the need for routine screening, or the value of early diagnosis of nOH when treating elderly patients with PD. nOH is easily missed and, importantly, healthcare providers may not realize that there are effective treatments for nOH symptoms that could help lessen the fall risk resulting from the condition. This review discusses the burden of, and key risk factors for, falls among patients with PD, with a focus on practical approaches for the recognition, assessment, and successful management of OH/nOH. In addition, insights are provided as to how fall patterns can suggest fall etiology, thereby influencing the choice of intervention.