Dizziness in the Elderly Often Due to Cardiovascular Disease

Adverse drug effect is the most common minor contributory cause in those seen in primary care
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- In over half of elderly patients seen in primary care with a complaint of dizziness, cardiovascular disease is a contributing factor, and an adverse drug effect is a contributing factor in about one-fourth of patients, according to research published in the May 10 issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Otto R. Maarsingh, M.D., of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional diagnostic study of 417 elderly patients, aged 65 to 95 years, presenting to their family physician for evaluation of persistent dizziness. All patients underwent a comprehensive evaluation using a standard set of diagnostic tests.

The researchers found that the most common subtype of dizziness was presyncope (69 percent). More than one dizziness subtype was assigned to 44 percent of the patients. Major contributory causes included cardiovascular disease (57 percent of patients), peripheral vestibular disease (14 percent), and psychiatric illness (10 percent). The most common minor contributory cause was an adverse drug effect (23 percent). In addition, 62 percent of patients were found to have more than one contributing cause of their dizziness.

"Understanding the clinical epidemiology of dizziness in its corresponding population is an essential first step when evaluating dizziness. Although vestibular disease is considered to be the most common cause of dizziness in secondary or tertiary care, the results of our study suggest that cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of dizziness in elderly patients in primary care," the authors write.

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