Summary: Hyperkyphosis, an increased kyphosis angle of the thoracic spine, was associated with a higher fall incidence in the oldest quartile of a large prospective cohort of community-dwelling older adults. Hyperkyphosis could serve as an indicator of an increased fall risk as well as a treatable condition.
Introduction: Hyperkyphosis is frequently found in adults aged 65 years and older and may be associated with falls. We aimed to investigate prospectively in community-dwelling older adults whether hyperkyphosis or change in the kyphosis angle is associated with fall incidence.
Methods.: Community-dwelling older adults (n = 1220, mean age 72.9 ± 5.7 years) reported falls weekly over 2 years. We measured thoracic kyphosis through the Cobb angle between the fourth and 12th thoracic vertebra on DXA-based vertebral fracture assessments and defined hyperkyphosis as a Cobb angle ≥ 50°. The change in the Cobb angle during follow-up was dichotomized (< 5 or ≥ 5°). Through multifactorial regression analysis, we investigated the association between the kyphosis angle and falls.
Results: Hyperkyphosis was present in 15% of the participants. During follow-up, 48% of the participants fell at least once. In the total study population, hyperkyphosis was not associated with the number of falls (adjusted IRR 1.12, 95% CI 0.91–1.39). We observed effect modification by age (p = 0.002). In the oldest quartile, aged 77 years and older, hyperkyphosis was prospectively associated with a higher number of falls (adjusted IRR 1.67, 95% CI 1.14–2.45). Change in the kyphosis angle was not associated with fall incidence.
Conclusions: Hyperkyphosis was associated with a higher fall incidence in the oldest quartile of a large prospective cohort of community-dwelling older adults. Because hyperkyphosis is a partially reversible condition, we recommend investigating whether hyperkyphosis is one of the causes of falls and whether a decrease in the kyphosis angle may contribute to fall prevention.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. The original B-PROOF trial is supported and funded by The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw, Grant 6130.0031), The Hague; unrestricted grant from NZO (Dutch Dairy Association), Zoetermeer; Orthica, Almere; NCHA (Netherlands Consortium Healthy Ageing), Leiden/Rotterdam; Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (project KB-15–004-003), The Hague; Wageningen University, Wageningen; VUmc, Amsterdam; Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam.
© 2021, The Author(s).