Mary E. Tinetti, MD; Christianna S. Williams, MPH; Thomas M. Gill, MD
Acknowledgments: The authors thank Sandra Ginter, RN, for assistance with data collection; Janett Nabors for assistance with data management; and Anna Marie Ciresi for assistance with preparation of the manuscript.
Grant Support: By grant RO1AG07447 and the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (P60AG10469) from the National Institute on Aging. Dr. Gill was a Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholar, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar, and an awardee of grant K23(00759) from the National Institute on Aging.
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Current Author Addresses: Dr. Tinetti: 333 Cedar Street, PO Box 208025, New Haven, CT 06520-8025.
Ms. Williams: Program on Aging, 129 York Street, New Haven, CT 06511.
Dr. Gill: Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Program in Geriatrics, 20 York Street, Tompkins 15, New Haven, CT 06504.
Author Contributions: Conception and design: M.E. Tinetti, T.M. Gill.
Analysis and interpretation of the data: M.E. Tinetti, C. Williams, T.M. Gill.
Drafting of the article: M.E. Tinetti, C. Williams.
Critical revision of the article for important intellectual content: M.E. Tinetti, C. Williams, T.M. Gill.
Final approval of the article: M.E. Tinetti, C. Williams, T.M. Gill.
Provision of study materials or patients: M.E. Tinetti.
Statistical expertise: C. Williams.
Obtaining of funding: M.E. Tinetti.
In previous studies of dizziness, the prevalence of specific causes has varied widely and either no or multiple causes have been identified. Dizziness might be better considered a geriatric syndrome that results from impairment or disease in multiple systems.
To determine the predisposing characteristics and situational factors associated with dizziness.
Population-based, cross-sectional study.
Probability sample of 1087 community-living persons in New Haven, Connecticut, who were at least 72 years of age.
Episodes of dizziness that occurred for at least 1 month; manifestations of dizziness; and predisposing demographic, medical, neurologic, sensory, and psychological characteristics.
261 participants (24%) reported dizziness; 56% of dizzy persons described several sensations and 74% reported several triggering activities. The adjusted relative risks for characteristics associated with dizziness were 1.69 (95% CI, 1.24 to 2.30) for anxiety, 1.36 (CI, 1.02 to 1.80) for depressive symptoms, 1.27 (CI, 0.99 to 1.63) for impaired hearing, 1.30 (CI, 1.01 to 1.68) for five or more medications, 1.31 (CI, 0.92 to 1.87) for postural hypotension, 1.34 (CI, 0.95 to 1.90) for impaired balance, and 1.31 (CI, 1.00 to 1.71) for past myocardial infarction. The adjusted relative risk for dizziness was 1.38 (CI, 1.27 to 1.49) for each additional characteristic.
The association among characteristics in multiple domains (cardiovascular, neurologic, sensory, psychological, and medication-related) and dizziness, coupled with the multiplicity of sensations and triggering activities, suggests that dizziness may be a geriatric syndrome, similar to delirium and falling. If so, an impairment reduction strategy, proven effective for other geriatric syndromes, may be effective in reducing the symptoms and disabilities associated with dizziness.
Mary E. Tinetti, Christianna S. Williams, Thomas M. Gill. Dizziness among Older Adults: A Possible Geriatric Syndrome. Ann Intern Med. 2000;132:337–344. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-132-5-200003070-00002
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2000;132(5):337-344.
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