The death of media giant Roger Ailes spotlights the life-threatening dangers of falls to seniors that might first appear to be insignificant, a top expert says.
“Falls are a huge cause of death, even in people who don’t appear to have been seriously injured at first,” Dr. Chauncey Crandall tells Newsmax Health.
The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office reported that Ailes, 77, died of bleeding on the brain caused by a fall in his Florida home eight days before, according to the Associated Press. He was reportedly put into an induced coma before his death Thursday morning.
Ailes — a former U.S. presidential adviser who started the Fox News Channel to promote a Republican agenda — was known to suffer from several health problems, including hemophilia, which can make even the mildest fall potentially fatal, says Crandall.
“People with hemophilia are forbidden to play contact sports. Just a simple fall can set off an intracranial hemorrhage, which can be disastrous,” notes Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
An intracranial hemorrhage is a type of bleeding that occurs within the skull.
Ailes had acknowledged in interviews that he was a hemophiliac, a medical condition in which the ability of the blood to clot is reduced, causing the sufferer to bleed severely from even a slight injury. People with severe hemophilia can even begin to bleed for no apparent reason.
Hemophilia is a genetic disorder that is more common in males. About 400,000 people worldwide are living with hemophilia and about 20,000 Americans have the condition.
What caused Ailes to fall also isn’t known. He may have simply slipped in his home or suffered a medical problem, such as a heartbeat irregularity, heart attack, or some other cause, noted Crandall, who is author of the Heart Health Report newsletter.
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among adults age 65 and over, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. (CDC)
According to the CDC, approximately 27,000 older adults die each year as a result of falls, which are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury. Another 2.8 million were treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries, and approximately 800,000 Americans are subsequently hospitalized
The CDC recommends these tips to prevent falls:
- Take care when using medications that can cause drowsiness, dizziness, or loss of balance.
- Address vision problems.
- Eliminate home hazards such as broken steps and throw rugs.
- Make sure your home is well lit.
- Do exercises that improve balance, such as strength training and tai chi.
- Wear good shoes and footwear.
- Make sure you do not have a vitamin D deficiency, which increases the risk of falling.
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