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J Card Fail. 2011 Sep;17(9):764-70. doi: 10.1016/j.cardfail.2011.04.015.

Risk factors for onset of disability among older persons newly diagnosed with heart failure: the Cardiovascular Health Study.

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Section of General Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8093, USA.



As the heart failure population continues to age, disability is becoming an increasingly important issue. Our objective was to identify risk factors for the onset of disability in activities of daily living among older persons with heart failure.


The study population included participants with newly diagnosed heart failure from the Cardiovascular Health Study, a longitudinal study of community-living, older persons. Data were collected through annual examinations. Cox regression modeling was used to examine associations between time-dependent predictors and onset of disability.


Of 461 participants newly diagnosed with heart failure (mean age 78.7 [SD 5.89]), 23% subsequently developed disability. The first year after heart failure diagnosis was the period of greatest risk for onset of disability (chi-square P value <.001). Factors that were independently associated with disability included: impaired gait speed (HR 2.29, 95% CI 1.34-3.90); impaired cognition (HR 1.87, 95% CI 1.14-3.05); and depressive symptoms (HR 1.72, 95% CI 1.04-2.83).


Onset of disability is a common occurrence among older persons newly diagnosed with heart failure. Risk factors for onset of disability in this population are potentially modifiable, and should be routinely assessed in an effort to reduce disability in this growing population.

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