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Journal Article


Wiseman T, Betihavas V. Aust. Crit. Care 2018; ePub(ePub): ePub.


Sydney Nursing School, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia. Electronic address:


(Copyright © 2018, Confederation of Australian Critical Care Nurses, Publisher Elsevier Publishing)






BACKGROUND: Falls in older adults are common. Age is a risk factor for falls and with an ageing population, presentation to the emergency department (ED) resulting from falls is rising. Reasons for falls in older adults are numerous and include cardiac arrhythmias. However, older patients who present with falls do not appear to be routinely screened for cardiac arrhythmias.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the association between cardiac arrhythmias and unexplained falls in older adults presenting to the ED and to identify the processes for cardiac screening in patients presenting to the ED after an unexplained fall.

METHODS: A scoping literature review was conducted because of the scarce number of primary research articles using an investigational design to undertake a detailed systematic review. Several databases were searched using the search terms: emergency department; trauma centers; arrhythmias cardiac; fall; and accidental fall. DATA SOURCES: A structured and systematic search using MEDLINE, Embase, and PubMed was conducted from 2002 to December 2017.

RESULTS: Five quantitative studies were included in this review that reported on adults who presented to the ED after an unexplained fall. Several factors associated with falls and cardiac arrhythmias were extracted from the data. These included age, past history of falls, current medications, comorbidities, electrocardiography, and other cardiac findings.

CONCLUSION: Falls in the elderly population account for a significant number of presentations to the ED. A number of known factors are associated with falls in elderly patients, including cardiovascular causes, yet specific individualised factors are largely unknown. There is no routine screening process for the identification of cardiovascular risk factors in those who present to the ED with an unexplained fall. Further research is needed to identify specific cardiac factors associated with the risk of unexplained falls in this patient cohort and to transfer these findings into a routine screening process.

Copyright © 2018 Australian College of Critical Care Nurses Ltd. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Language: en


Cardiac arrhythmia; Emergency department; Falls; Older adults; Screening


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