Severe Hypoglycemia and Risk of Falls in Type 2 Diabetes: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study.
Hypoglycemia has been postulated to contribute to falls risk in older adults with type 2 diabetes. However, few studies have prospectively examined the association between severe hypoglycemia and falls, both important causes of morbidity and mortality.We conducted a prospective cohort analysis of participants from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study with diagnosed diabetes at visit 4 (1996-1998). Episodes of severe hypoglycemia requiring medical treatment were identified using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, codes from hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and ambulance calls; total falls were identified from medical claims using E-codes from 1996 to 2013. Secondary analyses examined hospitalized falls and falls with fracture. We calculated incidence rates and used Cox regression models to evaluate the independent association of severe hypoglycemia with falls occurring after visit 4 through 2013.Among 1,162 participants with diabetes, 149 ever had a severe hypoglycemic event before baseline or during the median of 13.1 years of follow-up. The crude incidence rate of falls among persons without severe hypoglycemia was 2.17 per 100 person-years (PY) (95% CI 1.93-2.44) compared with 8.81 per 100PY (6.73-11.53) with severe hypoglycemia. After adjustment, severe hypoglycemia was associated with a more than twofold higher risk of falls (hazard ratio 2.23, 95% CI 1.61-3.07). Associations were consistent in subgroups defined by age, sex, race, BMI, duration of diabetes, or functional difficulty.Severe hypoglycemia was associated with a substantially higher risk of falls in this community-based population of adults with diabetes. Fall risk should be considered when individualizing glycemic treatment in older adults. Assessing hypoglycemia history and future hypoglycemia risk could also improve multifactorial fall prevention interventions for older adults with diabetes.