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Aging Dis. 2018 Jun 1;9(3):489-497. doi: 10.14336/AD.2017.1125. eCollection 2018 Jun.

Frailty in Older Adults with Cardiovascular Disease: Cause, Effect or Both?

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1Department of Internal medicine and Geriatrics, VU University Medical Center, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Amsterdam Public Health research institute, VU University Medical Center, 1007 MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
3Department of Cardiology, VU University Medical Center, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
4Department of Sociology, VU University, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been associated with an increased risk of frailty, but the direction of the association remains unclear. This study set out to examine the bidirectional longitudinal association between CVD and frailty over an extended period of time. Data are from 1432 older adults (aged 65-88yrs) of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA), who were followed for 17 years. At baseline and follow-up, CVD was assessed through self-report, medication use and medical records, and classified as angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, heart failure (HF), stroke, and peripheral artery disease. Throughout the study, frailty was assessed using Fried's frailty criteria. Cox regression models showed that patients with HF had an increased frailty risk (HR 2.7; 95%CI: 1.5-5.1) after a median follow-up of 8.4 yrs. This finding was independent of potential confounders (age, sex, several comorbidities). Examinations of the reverse association revealed that frail older adults were not at risk of incident CVD. Of all older adults with CVD, those with HF have an increased risk of frailty and frail older adults do not have an increased risk of CVD. Our findings emphasize the need for cardiac rehabilitation programs evaluating the effect of physical exercise programs in order to prevent frailty and therewith improve quality of life and independence of care in CVD patients.


Frailty; cardiovascular disease; heart failure; older adults

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