The relative importance of frailty, physical and cardiovascular function as exercise-modifiable predictors of falls in haemodialysis patients: a prospective cohort study.

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Stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD-5) patients on haemodialysis (HD) are at high risk of accidental falls. Previous research has shown that frailty is one of the primary contributors to the increased risk of falling in this clinical population. However, HD patients often present with abnormalities of cardiovascular function such as baroreflex impairment and orthostatic dysregulation of blood pressure (BP) which may also be implicated in the aetiology of falling. Therefore, we aimed to explore the relative importance of frailty and cardiovascular function as potential exercise-modifiable predictors of falls in these patients.Ninety-three prevalent CKD-5 patients on HD from three Renal Units were recruited for this prospective cohort study, which was conducted between October 2015 and August 2018. At baseline, frailty status was assessed using the Fried’s frailty phenotype, while physical function was evaluated through timed up and go (TUG), five repetitions chair sit-to-stand (CSTS-5), objectively measured physical activity, and maximal voluntary isometric strength. Baroreflex and haemodynamic function at rest and in response to a 60° head-up tilt test (HUT-60°) were also assessed by means of the Task Force Monitor. The number of falls experienced was recorded once a month during 12 months of follow-up.In univariate negative binomial regression analysis, frailty (RR: 4.10, 95%CI: 1.60-10.51, p = 0.003) and other physical function determinants were associated with a higher number of falls. In multivariate analysis however, only worse baroreflex function (RR: 0.96, 95%CI: 0.94-0.99, p = 0.004), and orthostatic decrements of BP to HUT-60° (RR: 0.93, 95%CI: 0.87-0.99, p = 0.033) remained significantly associated with a greater number of falls. Eighty falls were recorded during the study period and the majority of them (41.3%) were precipitated by dizziness symptoms, as reported by participants.This prospective study indicates that cardiovascular mechanisms implicated in the short-term regulation of BP showed a greater relative importance than frailty in predicting falls in CKD-5 patients on HD. A high number of falls appeared to be mediated by a degree of cardiovascular dysregulation, as evidenced by the predominance of self-reported dizziness (trial registration ID: NCT02392299; date of registration: March 18, 2015).

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