Associating frailty to cardiovascular disease and mortality

In March 2018, the Open Access journal PLOS Medicine published a special issue on “Cardiovascular disease and multimorbidity”. One of the featured research articles is that of Dr Gloria Aguayo, scientist at the Epidemiology and Public Health Research Unit in LIH’s Department of Population Health, and her collaboration partners. In this study, the scientists analysed 35 frailty scores – identified by a systematic literature review – on their ability to predict mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Data was used from 5,294 adults aged 60 years or more and followed up over a period of seven years within the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

The researchers observed that all frailty scores were associated with all-cause mortality, some were also associated with the incidence of cardiovascular disease, but none were associated with cancer events. In models adjusted for demographic and clinical information, 33 out of 35 frailty scores showed significant added predictive performance for all-cause mortality. Certain scores outperform others with regard to all-cause mortality and cardiovascular health outcomes in later life. The authors specify that multidimensional frailty scores may have a more stable association with mortality and incidence of cardiovascular disorders.

‘This study addresses one of the most relevant issues in healthcare and research on aging populations: how to diagnose and assess frailty, given the availability of many different frailty scores and the lack of a gold standard’, says Dr Aguayo. ‘Our study provides a direct comparison of the most complete list of frailty scores examined to date, using an advanced and reproducible methodology, in a well-characterised cohort representing the general elderly population.’

The study highlights the vast heterogeneity in the composition and performance of existing frailty scores. Dr Aguayo believes that the findings of the study will help clinicians in choosing the most appropriate instrument to assess frailty and associated health outcomes for their purpose. Notably, this research work is the first to compare the performance of frailty scores with respect to cancer incidence.

The study is the result of a tight collaboration between the Epidemiology and Public Health Research Unit at LIH’s Department of Population Health and researchers from LIH’s Competence Centre for Methodology and Statistics, the University of Liège, the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the University of Western Ontario in Canada and the Aarhus University in Denmark.

Luxembourg Institute of Health: Research dedicated to life.
The Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) is a public research organisation at the forefront of biomedical sciences. With its strong expertise in population health, oncology, infection and immunity as well as storage and handling of biological samples, its research activities are dedicated to people’s health. At LIH, more than 300 individuals are working together, aiming at investigating disease mechanisms and developing new diagnostics, innovative therapies and effective tools to implement personalised medicine. The institution is the first supplier of public health information in Luxembourg, a strong cooperation partner in local and international projects and an attractive training place for ambitious early-stage researchers.

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