Decreased Balance, Increased Mortality in U.S. Adults
Results of a large, population-based cohort study indicate a higher risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer in adults with balance impairment. More specifically, Cao, et al (2021) reported results for over 5,800 middle-aged (> 40 years) and older adults who completed the Romberg Test of Standing Balance on Firm and Compliant Surfaces.
These data were included in the cohort study using the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data collected from 1999–2004; participants were then linked to mortality data through December 31, 2015. The results suggest an increased hazard ratio for those with balance impairments compared to those without impairments after adjusting for other factors such as socioeconomic, chronic conditions, and lifestyle factors.
The authors suggest the need for further studies to confirm these findings and determine if there is a causal relationship. Answers to these questions may lead to identifying exercise programs that may have positive effects.
Cao C, et al. (2021) Association of balance function with all-cause and cause-specific mortality among U.S. adults. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. (March 11) doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2021.0057.