Dizziness in the elderly often due to cardiovascular disease

May 21, 2010

In more than half of elderly patients seen in primary care with a complaint of dizziness, cardiovascular disease is a contributing factor, and adverse drug effect is a contributing factor in about one-fourth of patients, according to research.

Ann Fam Med. 2010;8:196-205. [May-June 2010]

In more than 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 researchers from the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands. They conducted a cross-sectional diagnostic study of 417 elderly patients, aged 65 to 95 years, presenting to a 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).