THURSDAY, March 7, 2019 (HealthDay News) — From 2004 to 2017, there was a significant increase in the annual number of elderly Americans presenting to U.S. emergency departments with fractures associated with walking leashed dogs, according to a research letter published online March 6 in JAMA Surgery.

Kevin Pirruccio, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. A total of 1,033 free-text narratives in the database of fractures associated with pet supplies were reviewed for patients aged 65 years or older. Overall, 697 entries were identified, representing 32,624 cases of fall-related fractures among elderly Americans associated with walking leashed dogs.

The researchers found that from 2004 to 2017, there was a significant increase in the annual number of patients aged 65 years or older presenting to U.S. emergency departments with fractures associated with walking leashed dogs (from 1,671 to 4,396). Most fractures occurred in women (78.6 percent). The upper extremity was the most frequently fractured region overall (52.1 percent) and 17.3 percent of patients sustained hip fractures (17.3 percent). Of the patients, 28.7 percent required hospital admission.

“For older adults — especially those living alone and with decreased bone mineral density — the risks associated with walking leashed dogs merit consideration,” the authors write. “Even one such injury could result in a potentially lethal hip fracture, lifelong complications, or loss of independence.”

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