We examined women in their 80s and 90s and evaluated the hypothesis that abnormalities
in the dynamic response of glucose and insulin to a glucose load are associated with
We performed a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test in 73 community-dwelling women aged
84–95 years without known diabetes enrolled in the Women’s Health and Aging
Study II. We examined the association of frailty status (nonfrail, prefrail, or frail)
with oral glucose tolerance test glucose and insulin levels at 0, 30, 60, 120, and 180
minutes using multiple linear regression models.
Using American Diabetes Association criteria, only 27% of older women had normal
glucose status, 48% had prediabetes, and 25% had undiagnosed diabetes. Fasting glucose,
fasting insulin, homeostasis model of assessment-insulin resistance, and Matsuda index
were similar by frailty status, adjusting for age and body mass index. Conversely, mean
oral glucose tolerance test glucose levels were higher at 60 minutes (44.6 ± 18.1
mg/dL higher) and 120 minutes (67.1 ± 23.5 mg/dL higher) and to a lesser extent
at 180 minutes (44.3 ± 22.5 mg/dL higher) in frail versus nonfrail women as was
integrated glucose area after adjustment. Mean 120-minute insulin level was also higher
in frail versus nonfrail women (45.7 ± 22.4 μU/mL higher). Overall, glucose
and insulin responses were more exaggerated and prolonged in frail versus nonfrail or
Our data demonstrate dysregulation in response to glucose challenge as a component of
physiologic vulnerability associated with frailty in old–old women. Future studies
should examine the timing of abnormal glucose–insulin dynamics with respect to the
pathogenesis of frailty.
Glucose; Insulin; Dynamics; Elderly; Frailty
This study examined the relationship between financial strain, or difficulty acquiring necessities, and malnutrition risk in a community dwelling sample of frail and nonfrail women aged 70–79 in the Women’s Health and Aging Study (n = 679). Malnutrition risk was measured with a modified version of the Mini-Nutritional Assessment Short Form (MNA-SF) and defined as a score <11, financial strain was measured by (1) sufficiency of money on a monthly basis and (2) adequacy of income for food, and income was measured by ordinal categories. Mean (SD) modified MNA-SF score was 12.2 (1.80), and 14.7% of women had malnutrition risk. Women who usually did not have enough money to make ends meet had more than four-fold increased odds of malnutrition risk (OR = 4.54; 95% CI: 2.26, 9.14) compared to their counterparts who had some money left over each month. This was only slightly attenuated after control for income and education, (OR = 4.08; 95% CI: 1.95, 8.52) remaining robust. These results show an association between financial strain and malnutrition risk, independent of income, in older women. Self-reported financial strain may be preferable to income as a screener for malnutrition risk in older adults in clinical and research settings.
Experience Corps® places teams of trained volunteers in elementary school classrooms to promote academic achievement in children, and serve as a health promotion intervention for older adults. Prior to randomization, individuals reported participation in several activities of varying cognitive, physical, and social demands. Maintaining an active lifestyle, particularly in intellectually demanding activities, was associated with physical, mental, and cognitive health in adulthood. Establishing how individuals allocated their time before randomization to this program provides insight to prevalent health behaviors for at-risk older adults, and can provide the basis for examining intervention-related changes in lifestyle as a result of volunteer participation
Engagement; Activities; Intervention; Cognition; Aging; Volunteers
Few studies have addressed changes in physical activity participation over time among the elderly. The authors hypothesized that there were distinct trajectories of physical activity level over time and identifiable predictors of such trajectories, as well as that the maintenance of regular physical activity, even below recommended levels, was associated with lower mortality risk. Using longitudinal data (1994–2009) from 433 initially high-functioning older women aged 70–79 years at baseline, a joint latent class and survival mixture model identified 4 activity trajectory classes: always active (16.6%), fast declining (19.2%), stable moderate (32.3%), and always sedentary (31.9%). Obesity, coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depressive symptoms, low self-efficacy, mobility disability, and low energy were associated with sedentary behavior and/or a fast decline in activity. Women in the fast declining and always sedentary classes had hazard ratios for death of 2.34 (95% confidence interval: 1.20, 4.59) and 3.34 (95% confidence interval: 1.72, 6.47), respectively, compared with the always active class; no mortality difference was found between the stable moderate and always active groups (hazard ratio = 1.24, 95% confidence interval: 0.63, 2.47). Our findings suggest that physical activity does not have to be vigorous to be beneficial and that the gain may be the greatest among women who reported the lowest levels of activity.
aging; exercise; healthy people programs; lifestyle; motor activity; risk factors; survival; walking
Associations of inflammation with age-related pathologies are documented; however, it is not understood how changes in inflammation over time impact healthy aging.
We examined associations of long-term change in C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) with concurrent onset of physical and cognitive impairment, subsequent cardiovascular disease (CVD), and mortality in 1,051 participants in the Cardiovascular Health Study All Stars Study. Biomarkers were measured in 1996–1997 and 2005–2006.
In 2005–2006, median age was 84.9 years, 63% were women and 17% non-white; 21% had at least a doubling in CRP over time and 23% had at least a doubling in IL-6. Adjusting for demographics, CVD risk factors, and 1996–1997 CRP level, each doubling in CRP change over 9 years was associated with higher risk of physical or cognitive impairment (odds ratio 1.29; 95% confidence interval 1.15, 1.45). Results were similar for IL-6 (1.45; 1.20, 1.76). A doubling in IL-6 change over time, but not CRP, was associated with incident CVD events; hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) 1.34 (1.03, 1.75). Doubling in change in each biomarker was individually associated with mortality (CRP: 1.12 [1.03, 1.22]; IL-6 1.39 [1.16, 1.65]). In models containing both change and 2005–2006 level, only level was associated with CVD events and mortality.
Although increases in inflammation markers over 9 years were associated with higher concurrent risk of functional impairment and subsequent CVD events and mortality, final levels of each biomarker appeared to be more important in determining risk of subsequent events than change over time.
Inflammation; Aging; Physical function; Cognitive function
Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the largest component of total energy expenditure. It has not been studied in old-old adults living in the community, though abnormalities in RMR may play a critical role in the development of the clinical syndrome of frailty. The objective was to measure RMR and examine the association of measured RMR with frailty status and compare it to expected RMR generated by a predictive equation.
Physiologic sub-study conducted as a home visit within an observational cohort study.
Baltimore City and County, Maryland.
77 women age 83–93 years enrolled in the Women’s Health and Aging Study II.
RMR with indirect calorimetry; frailty status; fat-free mass; ambient and body temperature; expected RMR via the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation.
Average RMR was 1119 kcal/d (s.d.± 205; range 595–1560). Agreement between observed and expected RMR was biased and very poor (between-subject coefficient of variation 38.0%, 95%CI: 35.1–40.8). Variability of RMR was increased in frail subjects (heteroscedasticity F test P value=0.02). Both low and high RMR were associated with being frail (Odds Ratio 5.4, P value=0.04) and slower self-selected walking speed (P value<0.001) after adjustment for covariates.
Equations to predict RMR that are not validated in old-old adults appear to correlate poorly with measured RMR. RMR values are highly variable among old-old women, with deviations from the mean predicting clinical frailty. These exploratory findings suggest a pathway to clinical frailty through either high or low RMR.
resting metabolic rate; frailty; older adults
The susceptibility of older adults to the health effects of air pollution is well-recognized. Advanced age may act as a partial surrogate for conditions associated with aging. The authors investigated whether gerontologic frailty (a clinical health status metric) modified the association between ambient level of ozone or particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter less than 10 µm and lung function in 3,382 older adults using 7 years of follow-up data (1990–1997) from the Cardiovascular Health Study and its Environmental Factors Ancillary Study. Monthly average pollution and annual frailty assessments were related to up to 3 repeated measurements of lung function using cumulative summaries of pollution and frailty histories that accounted for duration as well as concentration. Frailty history was found to modify long-term associations of pollutants with forced vital capacity. For example, the decrease in forced vital capacity associated with a 70-ppb/month greater cumulative sum of monthly average ozone exposure was 12.3 mL (95% confidence interval: 10.4, 14.2) for a woman who had spent the prior 7 years prefrail or frail as compared with 4.7 mL (95% confidence interval: 3.8, 5.6) for a similar woman who was robust during all 7 years (interaction P < 0.001).
aging; effect modifier, epidemiologic; environmental exposure; frail elderly; respiratory function tests
Recent studies have expanded the functions of vitamin D to a possible role in pulmonary function. Our objective was to examine the relationship between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D), serum parathyroid hormone, and pulmonary function in older women.
We examined the relationship of serum 25(OH)D and parathyroid hormone with pulmonary function (forced expiratory volume in one second [FEV1], forced vital capacity [FVC], and FEV1/FVC ratio) in a cross-sectional study of 646 moderately to severely disabled women, 65 years or more, living in the community in Baltimore, Maryland, who participated in the Women’s Health and Aging Study I.
Overall, median (25th, 75th percentile) serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations were 19.9 (14.7, 26.7) ng/mL. Serum 25(OH)D was positively associated with FEV1 (p = .03), FVC (p = .18), and FEV1/FVC (p = .04) in multivariable linear regression models adjusting for age, race, education, smoking, height, physical activity, cognition, interleukin-6, chronic diseases, and other potential confounders. In the same models, serum parathyroid hormone was not significantly associated with FEV1, FVC, or FEV1/FVC.
These findings support the idea that vitamin D deficiency is independently associated with poor pulmonary function in older disabled women.
Aging; Lung function; Parathyroid hormone; Vitamin D; Women
This study examines whether and how report of a change in walking behavior, incident preclinical mobility disability (PCMD), predicts subsequent reduction in walking activity.
Materials and Methods
Data are from a prospective study of 436 community-dwelling women age 70–79 years. Outcome measures include subjective and objective measures of walking ability at 3 years.
Incident PCMD is associated with loss of walking abilities at 3-years, regardless of baseline physical impairment. Compared to women without, women with incident PCMD at 1.5 years after baseline were 2.7 (95% CI 1.4–7.2) times more likely to report that they no longer walk outdoors at least 8 blocks and 4.9 (1.9–13.1) times more likely to report new difficulty walking. Incident PCMD was also associated with declines in objective outcomes. Incident PCMD is an independent marker of subsequent decreased walking activity.
Incident PCMD appears to be a target for programs to prevent declines in walking activity in older adults.
disability; geriatrics; epidemiology; prevention; physical activity
To test the hypothesis that anemia (hemoglobin <12 g/dL) is associated with a faster rate of 9-year cognitive decline in a community-dwelling sample of women aged 70-80 years at baseline.
A population-based, prospective cohort study
East Baltimore, Maryland
436 women sampled to be representative of the 2/3 least disabled women in, aged 70-80 years at baseline (1994-1996).
9-year trajectories of cognitive decline, analyzed with linear random effects models, in the domains of immediate verbal recall, delayed verbal recall, psychomotor speed, and executive function.
At baseline and after adjustment for demographic and disease covariates, women with anemia were slower to complete a test of executive function than women without anemia by - 0.43 SD (95% CI: −0.74, −0.13) on the Trail Making Test, Part B (TMTB). During follow-up, anemia was associated with a faster rate of decline in memory. Between baseline and year 3, women with anemia declined at a rate of 0.18 more SD/year (95% CI: −0.29, −0.06) than women without anemia on the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test (HVLT) and by .0.15 more SD/year (95% CI: −0.26. −0.04) on the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Delayed (HVLT-Delayed).
Anemia was associated with poorer baseline performance on a test of executive function and with faster rates of decline on tests of immediate and delayed verbal recall. If this relationship is causal, it is possible that treatment of anemia could prevent or postpone cognitive decline.
anemia; elderly; executive function; longitudinal study; memory
Frailty is associated with a pro-inflammatory state, which has been characterized by elevated levels of systemic inflammatory biomarkers, but has not been related to the number of co-existing chronic diseases associated with inflammation. We sought to determine the extent to which a higher number of inflammatory-related diseases is associated with frailty and to identify the most common disease patterns associated with being frail in older adults. We performed binomial regression analyses to assess whether a higher count of inflammatory-related diseases increases the probability of frailty using data from the Women's Health and Aging Studies I and II, companion cohorts composed of 70–79-year-old community-dwelling older women in Baltimore, Maryland (n=620). An increase of one inflammatory-related disease was associated log-linearly with frailty (Prevalence Ratio (PR)=2.32, 95% Confidence Interval (CI)=1.85–2.92). After adjusting for age, race, education, and smoking status, the probability of frailty remained significant (PR=1.97, 95%CI=1.52–2.55). In the frail population, chronic kidney disease (CKD) and depressive symptoms (Prevalence=22.9%, 95%CI=14.2–34.8%); CVD and depressive symptoms (21.7%, 95%CI=13.2–33.5%); CKD and anemia (18.7%, 95%CI=11.1–29.7%); cardiovascular disease (CVD), CKD, and pulmonary disease (10.7%, 95%CI=5.2–21.0%); CKD, anemia, and depressive symptoms (8.7%, 95%CI=3.9–18.2%); and CVD, anemia, pulmonary disease, and depressive symptoms (5.0%, 95%CI=1.6–14.4%) were among the most frequent disease combinations. Their prevalence percentages were significantly higher in the frail versus non-frail women. A higher inflammatory-related disease count, perhaps reflecting a greater pro-inflammatory burden, increases the likelihood of frailty. Shared mechanisms among specific disease combinations may further contribute to this risk.
comorbidity; inflammation; frailty
In immunocompetent individuals, cytomegalovirus (CMV) is thought to persist in a latent state in monocytes and myeloid progenitor cells, establishing a lifelong infection. In CMV-seropositive older adults, aging has been associated with both expansion of CMV pp65495–503-specific CD8+ T cell clones and shrinkage of the T cell repertoire that characterize T cell immunosenescence. In fact it has been suggested that chronic CMV infection is a driving force in age-related T cell immunosenescence. In older adults, chronic CMV infection is conventionally diagnosed by positive IgG serology which does not distinguish between past and persistent infections. To better define the relationship between chronic CMV infection and expansion of CMV pp65495–503-specific CD8+ T cells, we directly assessed CMV viral DNA in monocyte-enriched peripheral blood mononuclear cells in 16 HLA-A2-positive elderly volunteers (mean age = 83 years). While all participants had positive CMV IgG serology by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, only nine (56%) had detectable CMV DNA by nested polymerase chain reaction. These nine individuals had significantly higher percentages of CMV pp65495–503 tetramer-positive CD8+ T cells (median = 1.3%) than those without detectable CMV DNA (median = 0.1%; p < 0.001). Absolute CMV IgG antibody titers did not differ between these two groups (median = 54.6 vs 44.2 EU/ml, respectively, p = 0.4). CMV IgM titers were negative for all 16 participants, suggesting that recent primary CMV infection was unlikely. These results demonstrate a strong association between the presence of CMV DNA in peripheral monocytes and the expansion of CD8+ T cells specific for the CMV immunodominant epitope pp65495–503. Although the sample size in this study is relatively small, these findings provide initial evidence suggesting the heterogeneity of CMV IgG-seropositive older adult population and CMV viral DNA detection in peripheral monocytes as an informative tool to better understand the relationship between chronic CMV infection and T cell immunosenescence.
Monocytic CMV DNA; CMV pp65495–503-specific CD8+ T cells; CMV IgG serology; Older adults
This study examined whether participation in a variety of lifestyle activities was comparable to frequent participation in cognitively challenging activities in mitigating impairments in cognitive abilities susceptible to aging in healthy, community-dwelling older women. Frequencies of participation in various lifestyle activities on the Lifestyle Activities Questionnaire (LAQ) were divided according to high (e.g., reading), moderate (e.g., discussing politics), and low (e.g., watching television) cognitive demand. We also considered the utility of participation in a variety of lifestyle activities regardless of cognitive challenge. Immediate and delayed verbal recall, psychomotor speed, and executive function were each measured at baseline and at five successive exams, spanning a 9.5-year interval. Greater variety of participation in activities, regardless of cognitive challenge, was associated with an 8 to 11% reduction in the risk of impairment in verbal memory and global cognitive outcomes. Participation in a variety of lifestyle activities was more predictive than frequency or level of cognitive challenge for significant reductions in risk of incident impairment on measures sensitive to cognitive aging and risk for dementia. Our findings offer new perspectives in promoting a diverse repertoire of activities to mitigate age-related cognitive declines.
Cognitive aging; Dementia; Intensity; Epidemiology; Longitudinal; Risk reduction behavior
Although fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease, the relationship between FGF23 and cardiovascular disease has not been well characterized in the general population. The aim of the study was to determine whether serum FGF23 is independently associated with cardiovascular disease in older community-dwelling women.
Design and methods
A cross-sectional design was used to examine the relationship between serum FGF23 and cardiovascular disease. The subjects consisted of a population-based sample of 659 women, aged 70–79 years, who participated in the Women’s Health and Aging Studies in Baltimore, Maryland. Prevalent cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, peripheral artery disease) was assessed through diagnostic algorithms and physician adjudication.
Of the 659 women, 185 (28.1%) had cardiovascular disease. Median (25th, 75th percentile) intact serum FGF23 was 34.6 (25.2, 46.2) pg/mL. The prevalence of cardiovascular disease in the lowest, middle, and highest tertile of serum FGF23 was 22.6%, 24.9%, and 36.7%, respectively (P = 0.002). Serum log FGF23 was associated with cardiovascular disease (Odds Ratio per 1 SD increase = 1.23, 95% Confidence Interval 1.17, 1.30; P <0.0001) in a multivariable logistic regression model, adjusting for age, race, smoking, education, body mass index, cognition, diabetes, hypertension, physical activity, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and renal function.
Elevated serum FGF23 concentrations are independently associated with prevalent cardiovascular disease in older community-dwelling women. Further studies are needed to elucidate the potential biological mechanisms by which FGF23 may be involved in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease.
aging; cardiovascular disease; fibroblast growth factor 23; women
In the general population, frailty, a late stage of the aging process, predicts mortality. We investigated whether manifesting a previously defined frailty-related phenotype (FRP) before initiating highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) affects the likelihood of developing clinical AIDS or mortality after HAART initiation.
Among 596 HIV-infected men in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study whose date of HAART initiation was known within ±6 months and who had an assessable FRP status within 3 years before HAART, survival analyses were performed to assess the effect of FRP manifestation on clinical AIDS or death after HAART.
In men free of AIDS before HAART, AIDS or death after HAART occurred in 13/36 (36%) men who exhibited the FRP before HAART but only in 69/436 (16%) men who did not (hazard ratio = 2.6; 95% confidence interval = 1.4–4.6; p < .01). After adjusting for age, ethnicity, education, nadir CD4+ T-cell count, peak HIV viral load, and hemoglobin in the 3 years before HAART, having the FRP at >25% of visits in the 3 years before HAART significantly predicted AIDS or death (adjusted hazard ratio = 3.8; 95% confidence interval = 1.9–7.9; p < .01). Results were unchanged when the analysis was restricted to the 335 AIDS-free men who were HAART responders, to the 124 men who had AIDS at HAART initiation, or to the subsets of men for whom indices of liver and kidney function could be taken into account.
Having a persistent frailty-like phenotype before HAART initiation predicted a worse prognosis after HAART, independent of known risk factors.
HIV; Aging; Frailty; HAART response; Survival analysis
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of sarcopenia. Our aim was to characterize the relationship between serum carboxymethyl-lysine (CML), a major circulating AGE, and incident severe walking disability (inability to walk or walking speed <0.4 m/sec) over 30 months of followup in 394 moderately to severely disabled women, ≥65 years, living in the community in Baltimore, Maryland (the Women's Health and Aging Study I). During followup, 154 (26.4%) women developed severe walking disability, and 23 women died. Women in the highest quartile of serum CML had increased risk of developing of severe walking disability in a multivariate Cox proportional hazards model, adjusting for age and other potential confounders. Women with elevated serum CML are at an increased risk of developing severe walking disability. AGEs are a potentially modifiable risk factor. Further work is needed to establish a causal relationship between AGEs and walking disability.
Although educational attainment has been consistently related to cognition in adulthood, the mechanisms are still unclear. Early education, and other social learning experiences, may provide the skills, knowledge, and interest to pursue intellectual challenges across the life course. Therefore, cognition in adulthood might reflect continued engagement with cognitively complex environments. Using baseline data from the Baltimore Experience Corps Trial, multiple mediation models were applied to examine the combined and unique contributions of intellectual, social, physical, creative, and passive lifestyle activities on the relationship between education and cognition. Separate models were tested for each cognitive outcome (i.e., reading ability, processing speed, memory). With the exception of memory tasks, findings suggest that education-cognition relations are partially explained by frequent participation in intellectual activities. The association between education and cognition was not completely eliminated, however, suggesting that other factors may drive these associations.
Low socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with increased risk for adverse health outcomes; those with low SES are thought to experience more environmental disadvantage and exposure to chronic stress over the life course. The effects of chronic stress on health have been measured by cortisol levels and variations in their diurnal pattern. However, the patterns of association between SES and cortisol have been equivocal in older adults. This paper examined in 98 older adults participating in the Brain Health Substudy of the Baltimore Experience Corps Trial baseline patterns of diurnal variation in salivary cortisol associated with lower versus higher SES using total income and perceived SES relative to others. For each measure, participants stratified into lower vs. higher SES showed a more blunted rate of decline in diurnal salivary cortisol over the day in adjusted models (P values ≤ 0.05). There were no SES-related differences in awakening cortisol, cortisol awakening response, or area under the curve. These findings confirm prior evidence of a biologic pathway through which socioeconomic disadvantage is linked to biologic vulnerability, and through which the impact of volunteer service in Experience Corps may be measured.
socioeconomic status; salivary cortisol; stress; diurnal pattern; HPA axis; resilience
Background and Aims
Low physical activity, one of five criteria in a validated clinical phenotype of frailty, is assessed by a standardized, semi-quantitative questionnaire on up to 20 leisure time activities. Because of the time demanded to collect the interview data, it has been challenging to translate to studies other than the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), for which it was developed. Considering subsets of activities, we identified and evaluated streamlined surrogate assessment methods and compared them to one implemented in the Women’s Health and Aging Study (WHAS).
Using data on men and women ages 65 and older from the CHS, we applied logistic regression models to rank activities by “relative influence” in predicting low physical activity. We considered subsets of the most influential activities as inputs to potential surrogate models (logistic regressions). We evaluated predictive accuracy and predictive validity using the area under receiver operating characteristic curves and assessed criterion validity using proportional hazards models relating frailty status (defined using the surrogate) to mortality.
Walking for exercise and moderately strenuous household chores were highly influential for both genders. Women required fewer activities than men for accurate classification. The WHAS model (8 CHS activities) was an effective surrogate, but a surrogate using 6 activities (walking, chores, gardening, general exercise, mowing and golfing) was also highly predictive.
We recommend a 6 activity questionnaire to assess physical activity for men and women. If efficiency is essential and the study involves only women, fewer activities can be included.
Frail Older Adults; Logistic Regression; Physical Activity; Screening
To examine the impact of educational attainment on the incidence of preclinical mobility disability (PCD).
The Women's Health and Aging II Study is a prospective observational cohort study of 436 initially high-functioning community-dwelling women aged 70–79 years at baseline in Baltimore, Maryland. We measured the association of highest attained education level with preclinical mobility disability (PCD) over an 11-year period. PCD is defined as self-reported modification in any of four tasks without reporting difficulty in those tasks. The tasks were walking ½ mile, climbing up steps, doing heavy housework, and getting in/out of bed or chair.
Participants with less than 9 years of education were more likely to acquire incident PCD (hazard ratio: 3.1, 95% confidence interval = 1.2–7.7) than their counterparts with more education after adjusting for income, marital status, number of diseases, and high self-efficacy.
Lower education level is an independent predictor of incident preclinical mobility disability. This association has important implications for primary and secondary prevention and can be easily assessed in clinical encounters.
Health disparities; Mobility; Preclinical disability
Chronic disease is a risk factor for frailty. Previous studies typically consider individual diagnosed diseases, but disease builds over time, possibly in several organs simultaneously.
We hypothesize that disease burden is associated with frailty independent of diagnosed chronic disease and that physiologic measurements provide greater understanding of the etiology of frailty.
Cardiovascular Health Study, 1992–93 examination (N=2437, mean (SD) age 74.8 (4.8) years, 43.4% male, 95.8% white).
Disease burden and frailty were tabulated using 10-point scales (0=healthy, 10=unhealthy). Disease burden was the sum of measurements characterizing the vasculature, brain, kidneys, lungs, and glucose metabolism. Frailty was assessed with the frailty index reported by Fried. Multivariate linear models were used to determine the association of disease burden (predictor) to frailty (outcome).
Unadjusted, 1 point higher disease burden was associated with a 0.28 point higher frailty score (p<0.0001). White matter grade, forced vital capacity, and cystatin-C were particularly strongly and significantly associated with frailty. Disease burden attenuated the association of frailty with age by 29%, and disease burden and age had similar associations with frailty. Disease burden attenuated the association of frailty with fibrinogen, Factor VIII, and CRP by 32%, 56%, and 83%. Frailty was associated with diagnosed depression, stroke, cognitive impairment, arthritis, and pulmonary disease but not coronary heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease in the presence of a summary of disease burden. In the adjusted model disease burden remained significantly associated with frailty (β=0.11, p<0.0001).
Disease burden was independently and significantly associated with frailty. These results emphasize that typically unrecognized physiologic changes may importantly contribute to frailty.
Frailty; etiology; disease burden
To describe the relationship between lower extremity physical performance, self-reported mobility difficulty and self-reported use of compensatory strategies for mobility inside the home.
Cross sectional, exploratory study.
Disabled, cognitively-intact women ≥65 years old (n=1002), from the Women’s Health and Aging Study I.
Main Outcome Measures
Compensatory strategy (CS) scale: No CS, Behavioral Modifications (BM) only, Durable Medical Equipment (DME) with or without use of behavioral modifications, and any use of Human Help (HH); and 3 dichotomous CS measures: Any CS (vs none); DME±HH (vs BM only, among users of any CS); Any HH (vs DME only, among users of any DME/HH).
Self reported mobility difficulty and physical performance were significantly correlated with one another (r=−0.57, p<0.0001) and with the CS Scale (r=0.51, p<0.001 and r=−0.54, p<0.0001 respectively). Sequential logistic regressions showed self reported difficulty and physical performance were significant independent predictors of each category of CS. For the Any CS and DME±HH models, the Odds Ratio (OR) for self reported difficulty decreased by ~50% when physical performance was included in the model, compared to difficulty alone (18.0 to 8.6 and 7.3 to 3.8 respectively), but both physical performance and difficulty remained significant predictors (p<0.0001). The effects of covariates differed for the various CS categories, with some covariates having independent relationships to compensatory strategy, and others appearing to have moderating or mediating effects on the relationship of self reported difficulty or physical performance to CS.
Physical performance, self reported difficulty, health conditions, and contextual factors have complex effects on the way elders carry out mobility inside the home.
Rehabilitation; Geriatrics; Walking; Self-Help Devices
Background & Aims
Red cell distribution width (RDW), a measure of heterogeneity in the size of circulating erythrocytes, is associated with some chronic diseases and predicts mortality. Although oxidative damage and inflammation have been theorized to affect RDW, the relationships of antioxidants and inflammation with RDW have not been well characterized. The aims were to determine whether total serum carotenoids, α-tocopherol, selenium, protein carbonyls, and interleukin-6 (IL-6) are associated with RDW and predict RDW over time.
RDW was measured at baseline, 12 months, and 24 months follow-up in 786 moderately to severely disabled community-dwelling women, aged ≥65 years, in the Women’s Health and Aging Study I in Baltimore, Maryland.
Selenium was significantly associated with RDW at baseline and predicted RDW over two years’ follow-up in separate multivariate mixed effects models that adjusted for other covariates. As expected, the addition of IL-6 to the models attenuated the association of serum selenium with RDW, as low antioxidant levels are known to upregulate IL-6. Total carotenoids were associated with RDW at baseline and one year follow-up. Protein carbonyls and α-tocopherol were not significantly associated with RDW.
Serum selenium is an independent predictor of RDW and may potentially mediate effects on RDW through IL-6.
carotenoids; interleukin-6; oxidative stress; red cell distribution width; selenium; vitamin E
Older women experience disability more commonly than their male peers. This disparity may be due, in part, to sex-based differences in the prevalence or the disabling effects of common medical conditions. The objectives of this analysis were to (a) quantify the extent to which excess disability in women is explained by higher prevalence of selected medical conditions and (b) evaluate whether the same conditions have differing effects on disability in men and women.
We analyzed cross-sectional data from 5,888 community-dwelling older men and women. Disability was defined as difficulty with greater than or equal to one activity of daily living. Thirteen medical conditions were assessed by self-report, testing, or record review.
Controlling for age, race, education, and marital status, women were more likely to experience disability (odds ratio = 1.70, 95% confidence interval = 1.36–2.11). Higher prevalence of arthritis and obesity in women explained 30.2% and 12.9%, respectively, of the sex-based difference in disability rates, whereas male prevalent diseases like vascular conditions and emphysema narrowed the disability gap. Women with arthritis, hearing problems, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, and claudication were more likely to exhibit disability compared with men with the same conditions (p < .001).
Efforts to lessen sex-based inequality in disability should focus on reducing the prevalence of arthritis and obesity. Future generations may see greater functional disparity if rates of vascular disease and emphysema rise among women. Several conditions were more often associated with disability in women, suggesting additional sex-based differences in the disablement process.
Comorbidity; Disability; Gender; Function; Disparity
The relationship between self-reported function and objective measures of physiological function among disabled older women was analyzed to determine the validity of self-reported function, and to identify the hierarchy of self-reported task difficulty most associated with loss of independence as a basis to inform treatment progress goals.
A randomly selected population of older women with moderate to high disability was selected from community-dwelling women 65–101 years old from the Women’s Health and Aging Study I baseline evaluation (N=987). Cross-sectional analyses evaluated the association of self-reported function with objective physiological impairment measures.
The results indicated that: (a) disabled older women self-reported a broad range of physical function levels; (b) self-reported function correlated closely with objective measures of physiological impairments; (c) “preclinical disability,” as measured by self-reported modification of task performance in the absence of perceived difficulty, has validity even in a disabled population, and identifies a group intermediate between those who are high functioning in a task and those with difficulty, and (d) there is an apparent gradation in physiological impairment measures with reported loss of functional independence.
These findings suggest the validity of self-report functional disability measures and the potential to use these measures to identify already-disabled older adults at risk for further functional degradation and potential targets for intervention.
Aging; disability; impairments