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2.  The SF-36: a simple, effective measure of mobility-disability for epidemiological studies 
Background
Mobility disability is a major problem in older people. Numerous scales exist for the measurement of disability but often these do not permit comparisons between study groups. The physical functioning (PF) domain of the established and widely used Short Form-36 (SF-36) questionnaire asks about limitations on ten mobility activities.
Objectives
To describe prevalence of mobility disability in an elderly population, investigate the validity of the SF-36 PF score as a measure of mobility disability, and to establish age and sex specific norms for the PF score.
Methods
We explored relationships between the SF-36 PF score and objectively measured physical performance variables among 349 men and 280 women, 59-72 years of age, who participated in the Hertfordshire Cohort Study (HCS). Normative data were derived from the Health Survey for England (HSE) 1996.
Results
32% of men and 46% of women had at least some limitation in PF scale items. Poor SF-36 PF scores (lowest fifth of the gender-specific distribution) were related to: lower grip strength; longer timed-up-and-go, 3m walk, and chair rises test times in men and women; and lower quadriceps peak torque in women but not men. HSE normative data showed that median PF scores declined with increasing age in men and women.
Conclusion
Our results are consistent with the SF-36 PF score being a valid measure of mobility disability in epidemiological studies. This approach might be a first step towards enabling simple comparisons of prevalence of mobility disability between different studies of older people. The SF-36 PF score could usefully complement existing detailed schemes for classification of disability and it now requires validation against them.
PMCID: PMC2654814  PMID: 19151909
epidemiology; physical functioning; disability; ageing; mobility
3.  Cortisol and the metabolic syndrome in South Asians 
Clinical endocrinology  2003;58(4):500-505.
Summary
OBJECTIVE
The cardiovascular risk factors which comprise the metabolic syndrome are associated with increased hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPAA) activity in some Caucasian populations. South Asians have high rates of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors. We have investigated the relationships between HPAA activity, adiposity and the metabolic syndrome in a South Asian population.
DESIGN
Cross-sectional cohort study.
PARTICIPANTS
A total of 509 men and women born at the Holdsworth Memorial Hospital, Mysore, South India between 1934 and 1954 and still living in the area.
MEASUREMENTS
Fasting 09·00 h cortisol and corticosteroid-binding globulin. The cohort had previously been investigated for features of the metabolic syndrome.
RESULTS
At 09·00 h, cortisol concentration was strongly associated with systolic and diastolic blood pressure (r = 0·25 and r = 0·24, respectively; P < 0·001), fasting glucose concentration (r = 0·26; P < 0·001), insulin resistance (r = 0·20; P < 0·001) and fasting triglyceride concentration (r = 0·17; P < 0·001). In general, higher cortisol concentrations added to the effect of adiposity in increasing cardiovascular risk factors, but there was evidence of an interaction between cortisol and adiposity in determining fasting glucose concentration (P = 0·045) and insulin resistance (P = 0·006).
CONCLUSIONS
Associations between 09·00 h cortisol concentration and cardiovascular risk factors in this South Asian cohort were stronger than those previously shown in Caucasian populations, despite similar mean cortisol concentrations, and were amplified by adiposity. This suggests that increased glucocorticoid action may contribute to ethnic differences in the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, particularly among men and women with a higher body mass index.
PMCID: PMC3405820  PMID: 12641634
4.  Coding Geriatric syndromes: How good are we? 
High quality coding of hospital activity is important because the data is used for resource allocation and measuring performance. There is little information on the quality of coding of admissions of frail older people who have multiple diagnoses, co-morbidities and functional impairment. Presence or absence of four geriatric syndromes and eight medical conditions was noted on case note review (CNR). Discharge summaries (DS) and hospital coding (HC) were reviewed and compared with the CNR. Forty patients had at least one geriatric syndrome noted in the DS; 16 (40.0%) were captured by the HC. Of 57 patients with at least one medical condition noted in the DS, 52 (91.2%) were captured by the HC (p<0.0001 for difference in HC capture rates). We have demonstrated poor capture of information on geriatric syndromes compared to medical conditions in discharge summaries and hospital coding and propose a problem list bookmark approach to improve this.
PMCID: PMC3191527  PMID: 22003315
Coding; routine data; geriatric syndromes; frailty
5.  Hertfordshire sarcopenia study: design and methods 
BMC Geriatrics  2010;10:43.
Background
Sarcopenia is defined as the loss of muscle mass and strength with age. Although a number of adult influences are recognised, there remains considerable unexplained variation in muscle mass and strength between older individuals. This has focused attention on influences operating earlier in life. Our objective for this study was to identify life course influences on muscle mass and strength in an established birth cohort and develop methodology for collection of muscle tissue suitable to investigate underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms.
Methods
One hundred and five men from the Hertfordshire Cohort Study (HCS), born between 1931 and 1939 who have historical records of birth weight and weight at one year took part in the Hertfordshire Sarcopenia Study (HSS). Each participant consented for detailed characterisation of muscle mass, muscle function and aerobic capacity. In addition, a muscle biopsy of the vastus lateralis using a Weil-Blakesley conchotome was performed. Data on muscle mass, function and aerobic capacity was collected on all 105 participants. Muscle biopsy was successfully carried out in 102 participants with high rates of acceptability. No adverse incidents occurred during the study.
Discussion
The novel approach of combining epidemiological and basic science characterisation of muscle in a well established birth cohort will allow the investigation of cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying life course influences on sarcopenia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-10-43
PMCID: PMC2909243  PMID: 20587018
6.  The developmental origins of sarcopenia: using peripheral quantitative computed tomography to assess muscle size in older people 
Background
A number of studies have shown strong graded positive relationships between size at birth and grip strength and estimates of muscle mass in older people. However no studies to date have included direct measures of muscle size.
Methods
We studied 313 men and 318 women born in Hertfordshire UK between 1931 and 1939 who were still resident there and had historical records of growth in early life. Information on lifestyle was collected and participants underwent peripheral quantitative computed tomography to directly measure forearm and calf muscle size.
Results
Birth weight was positively related to forearm muscle area in the men (r = 0.24 p < 0.0001) and women (r = 0.17 p =0.003). There were similar but weaker associations between birth weight and calf muscle area in the men (r=0.13, p=0.03) and in the women (r=0.17, p=0.004). These relationships were all attenuated by adjustment for adult size.
Conclusion
We present first evidence that directly measured muscle size in older men and women is associated with size at birth. This may reflect tracking of muscle size and is important because it suggests that benefit may be gained from taking a life course approach both to understanding the aetiology of sarcopenia and to developing effective interventions.
PMCID: PMC2652118  PMID: 18772471
7.  Diet and its relationship with grip strength in community-dwelling older men and women: the Hertfordshire Cohort Study 
OBJECTIVES
To examine relationships between diet and grip strength in older men and women, and to determine whether these relationships are modified by prenatal growth.
DESIGN
Cross-sectional and retrospective cohort study
SETTING
Hertfordshire, UK
PARTICIPANTS
Two thousand, nine hundred and eighty three men and women aged 59 to 73 years who were born and still live in Hertfordshire, UK
MEASUREMENTS
Weight at birth recorded in Health Visitor ledgers. Current food and nutrient intake assessed using an administered food frequency questionnaire, grip strength was measured with a hand-held dynamometer.
RESULTS
Grip strength was positively associated with height and weight at birth, and inversely related to age (all P<0.001). Of the dietary factors considered in relation to grip strength, the most important was fatty fish consumption. An increase in grip strength of 0.43kg (95% CI 0.13 to 0.74) in men (P=0.005), and 0.48kg (95% CI 0.24 to 0.72) in women (P<0.001), was observed for each additional portion of fatty fish consumed per week. These relationships were independent of adult height, age and birth weight, each of which had additive effects on grip strength. There was no evidence of interactive effects of weight at birth and adult diet on grip strength.
CONCLUSION
These data suggest that fatty fish consumption can have an important influence on muscle function in older men and women. This raises the possibility that the anti-inflammatory actions of n-3 fatty acids may play a role in the prevention of sarcopenia.
doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2007.01478.x
PMCID: PMC2493054  PMID: 18005355
diet; sarcopenia; grip strength
8.  Lipid profile, obesity and bone mineral density: the Hertfordshire Cohort Study 
Background
Body mass index (BMI) and bone mineral density (BMD) are positively correlated in several studies, but few data are available relating bone density, lipid profile and anthropometric measures. We addressed these relationships in a large well-characterised cohort of men and women (The Hertfordshire Cohort Study, UK).
Methods
Four hundred and sixty five men and 448 women from Hertfordshire, UK were recruited. Information was available on demographic and lifestyle factors, anthropometric measurements, body fat percentage, fasting triglycerides, cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL), apolipoprotein (a) and apolipoprotein (b); bone mineral density (BMD) was recorded at the lumbar spine and total femur.
Results
BMD at the lumbar spine (males r=0.15, p=0.001; females r=0.14 p=0.003) and total femoral region (males r=0.18, p=0.0001; females r==0.16, p=0.0008) was related to serum triglyceride level, even after adjustment for waist hip ratio, age, social class and lifestyle factors, but not if body fat percentage was substituted for waist-hip ratio in the regression model. Fasting HDL cholesterol level was related to lumbar spine BMD in women (r=−0.15, p=0.001) and total femoral BMD (males r=−0.15, p=0.002; females r=−0.23, p<0.0001); these relationships were also attenuated by adjustment for body fat percentage but not waist hip ratio. No relationships were seen between total or LDL cholesterol with BMD.
Conclusions
We have demonstrated relationships between lipid profile and BMD that are robust to adjustment for one measure of central obesity (waist-hip ratio) but not total body fat.
doi:10.1093/qjmed/hcm023
PMCID: PMC2080690  PMID: 17449479
lipid; bone; cohort; anthropometry; obesity
9.  Falls, sarcopenia and growth in early life 
American journal of epidemiology  2006;164(7):665-671.
Recent studies have shown that people with poor early growth have an increased risk of sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is an important risk factor for falls but it is not known whether poor early growth is related to falls. We investigated this in the Hertfordshire Cohort Study where 2148 participants completed a falls history. Grip strength was used as a marker of sarcopenia. Birth weight, weight at one year and conditional infant growth were analysed in relation to falls history. The prevalence of any fall in the last year was 14.3% for men and 22.5% for women. Falls in the last year were inversely related to adult grip strength, height and walking speed in men and women as well as to lower conditional infant growth in men (OR 1.27 [95% CI 1.04, 1.56] per SD decrease in conditional infant growth, p=0.02). This association was attenuated after adjustment for grip strength. Our findings support an association between poor early growth and falls in older men which appears to be mediated partly through sarcopenia. The lack of relationship with birth weight suggests that postnatal rather than prenatal influences on muscle growth and development may be important for risk of falls in later life.
doi:10.1093/aje/kwj255
PMCID: PMC2062502  PMID: 16905644
Falls accidental; muscle skeletal; muscle development; frail older adults; geriatrics; epidemiology; cohort studies

Results 1-9 (9)