It has long been known that stress can raise the risk of serious health problems, including cancer and heart disease. A new study has concluded that stress in older adults also can significantly raise the risk of a fall.

Researchers at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis looked at data on 6,000 men ages 65 and older and found that those who suffered a recent stressful event had a 41 percent higher risk of a fall. Stressful events included the death of a loved one or a close friend, serious financial problems, a rift with an adult child and the loss of a pet.

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Researchers said a possible explanation for the results is that a stressful event triggers the release of hormones that affect the nervous system, which controls balance and coordination.

The research was published in the British medical journal Age and Ageing.