Dizziness in family practice patients increases with age

January 01, 0001

Dizziness in family practice patients increases with age

Although dizziness in elderly patients is very common in family practice, most prevalence studies on dizziness are community-based and include a study population that is not representative of family practice. The aim of this study by Dutch researchers was to investigate the prevalence and incidence of dizziness reported by elderly patients in family practice, to describe their final diagnoses as recorded by the family physician, and to compare the clinical characteristics of dizzy patients with those of non-dizzy patients. Data were obtained from the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice, a prospective registration study which took place over a 12-month period in 2001. They identified all patients aged 65 or older who visited their family physician because of dizziness (N=3,990).

The one-year prevalence of dizziness in family practice in patients aged 65 or older was 8.3%, it was higher in women than in men, and it increased with age. In patients aged 85 or older the prevalence was similar for men and women. The incidence of dizziness was 47.1 per 1000 person-years. For 39% of the dizzy patients the family physicians did not specify a diagnosis, and recorded a symptom diagnosis as the final diagnosis. Living alone, lower level of education, pre-existing cerebrovascular disease, and pre-existing hypertension were independently associated with dizziness.

The researchers concluded: "Dizziness in family practice patients increases with age. It is more common in women than in men, but this gender difference disappears in the very old. Because a large proportion of dizzy elderly patients in family practice remains undiagnosed, it would be worthwhile to carry out more diagnostic research on dizziness in a family practice setting."

It is pleasing to see such research based in family practice, but symptom diagnosis by family practitioners may not be helpful.

For the full abstract, click here.

BMC Family Practice 11:2, January 2010
© 2010 BioMed Central Ltd
Dizziness reported by elderly patients in family practice: prevalence, incidence, and clinical characteristics. Otto R Maarsingh, Jacquelien Dros, François G Schellevis et al. Correspondence to Otto Maarsingh: [email protected]

Category: H. Ear. Keywords: dizziness, elderly, family practice, prevalence, incidence, clinical characteristics, prevalence study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 16 April 2010

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