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PLoS One. 2019 Oct 15;14(10):e0223449. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223449. eCollection 2019.

The accumulation of deficits approach to describe frailty.

Author information

1
Department of Epidemiology, German Institute of Human Nutrition, Potsdam-Rehbruecke, Germany.
2
Department of Biophysics, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poznan, Poland.
3
Department of Molecular Toxicology, German Institute of Human Nutrition, Potsdam-Rehbruecke, Germany.
4
Molecular Epidemiology Research Group, Max-Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC), Berlin-Buch, Germany.

Abstract

The advancing age of the participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Potsdam study was the incentive to investigate frailty as a major parameter of ageing. The aim of this study was to develop a multidimensional tool to measure frailty in an ageing, free-living study population. The "accumulation of deficits approach" was used to develop a frailty index (FI) to characterize a sub-sample (N = 815) of the EPIC-Potsdam (EPIC-P) study population regarding the aging phenomenon. The EPIC-P frailty index (EPIC-P-FI) included 32 variables from the following domains: health, physical ability, psychosocial and physiological aspects. P-values were calculated for the linear trend between sociodemographic and life style variables and the EPIC-P-FI was calculated using regression analysis adjusted for age. The relationship between the EPIC-P-FI and age was investigated using fractional polynomials. Some characteristics such as age, education, time spent watching TV, cycling and a biomarker of inflammation (C-reactive protein) were associated with frailty in men and women. Interestingly, living alone, having no partner and smoking status were only associated with frailty in men, and alcohol use and physical fitness (VO2max) only in women. The generated, multidimensional FI, adapted to the EPIC-P study, showed that this cohort is a valuable source for further exploration of factors that promote healthy ageing.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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