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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2001 Apr;56(4):M243-7.

Lower body function and mortality in Mexican American elderly people.

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Center on Aging and Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-1153, USA.



The purpose of this analysis was to examine the differential impact of performance-based and self-reported lower body measures on 2-year mortality in Mexican American elderly persons.


Data employed are from the Hispanic Established Population for Epidemiological Studies of the Elderly, a probability survey of 3050 community-dwelling Mexican Americans aged 65 and older from the five Southwestern states interviewed in 1993 and 1994. Of the baseline sample with complete data, 198 persons were confirmed deceased 2 years later. A three-task, performance-based, lower body function measure consisting of a short walk, balance, and repeated chair stands tests was used. Self-reported lower body function was measured by a 4-item Activities of Daily Living (ADL) measure involving the lower body.


The three-task, lower body function measure was a significant predictor of 2-year mortality. The short walk alone was as predictive as the summary measure. The predictive ability of both measures was minimally reduced by the inclusion of the self-reported ADL measure and life-threatening medical conditions. Finally, the ADL measure was not a significant predictor of mortality with all the other variables in the analysis.


Objective measures of lower body function were significant predicators of mortality in Mexican American elderly persons, as found in the general population. Unlike previous studies, the ADL measure was not an independent predictor of mortality after controlling for the objective measure and other risk factors. Additional research is needed to address why objective measures of function are such strong predictors of death.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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