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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012 Apr;60(4):756-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.03909.x. Epub 2012 Mar 29.

Age and sex variation in prevalence of chronic medical conditions in older residents of U.S. nursing homes.

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  • 1Center for Research on Aging of Jewish Home, San Francisco, California, USA.



To investigate patterns in prevalences of chronic medical conditions over the age span of long-term stay nursing home residents and between the sexes with data from the 2004 National Nursing Home Survey (NNHS).


Retrospective, cross-sectional study.


U.S. nursing homes.


Nationally representative sample comprising 11,788 long-term stay residents (3,003 (25%) men, 8,785 (75%) women) aged 65 and older.


Clinical Classifications Software was used to group International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, codes to identify the 20 most-prevalent chronic medical conditions. SAS survey procedures were used to account for design effects of stratification and clustering to generate nationally representative estimates of prevalences of medical conditions.


Average age was 84, with women older than men (85 vs 81, P = .02) and 67% of women aged 80 to 95. Women required more assistance with activities of daily living. The most frequent chronic medical conditions were hypertension (men 53%, women 56%), dementia (men 45%, women 52%), depression (men 31%, women 37%), arthritis (men 26%, women 35%), diabetes mellitus (men 26%, women 23%), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (men 23%, women 23%), atherosclerosis (men 24%, women 20%), congestive heart failure (CHF) (men 18%, women 21%), cerebrovascular disease (CVD) (men 24%, women 19%), and anemia (men 17%, women 20%). Sex differences in prevalences existed for all but constipation, GERD, and hypertension. Diabetes mellitus, CVD, and lipid disorders decreased with age in men and women. Atrial fibrillation, anemia, arthritis, CHF, dementia, and thyroid disease increased with age in men and women. Age-related patterns differed between the sexes for diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and Parkinson's disease.


The profile of chronic medical conditions varies over the age span of nursing home residents and differs between men and women. This knowledge should guide educational and care efforts in long-term care.

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