The researchers reported that a hardening of the aging brain's blood vessels decreases their capacity to respond to changes in blood pressure, which escalates the risk of falls by 70%. Falls among the aged are not only due to change in the arteries, but there are many other factors behind it, according to Dr. Joe Verghese, a Neurologist at Albert Einstein University College of Medicine. Stiffening can be reduced by treating high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
More than a third of adults over the age of 65 fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 30% of the people who fall suffer from moderate to severe injuries, as well as hip fractures and shocking brain injuries.
Factors which are linked to falls include diseases, foot problems, overmedication, and environmental hazards. The one factor that is linked is abnormality in the signaling potential of the brain's white matter, which controls both cognitive and motor functions.
About 420 people over the age of 65 were studied by Dr. Farzaneh A. Sorond, a neurologist at Harvard University's Institute for Aging Research, and her colleagues. An ultrasound was used to measure the flow of blood in the patients' brains, while they were taking rest or were breathing heavily.
The level of carbon dioxide increases with heavy breathing, which produces a dilation of the blood vessels, known as vasoreactivity. If blood vessels fail to dilate under stress, the brain is not able to get sufficient oxygen and glucose.
One of the factors that contribute to falls is poor gait. Only 8% of 80-year-olds have a normal gait.