Article

The Frailty Syndrome: Definition and Natural History

Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 2024 East Monument Street, Suite 2-700, Baltimore, MD 21205-1179, USA.
Clinics in Geriatric Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.19). 02/2011; 27(1):1-15. DOI: 10.1016/j.cger.2010.08.009
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This article reviews the current state of knowledge regarding the epidemiology of frailty by focusing on 6 specific areas: (1) clinical definitions of frailty, (2) evidence of frailty as a medical syndrome, (3) prevalence and incidence of frailty by age, gender, race, and ethnicity, (4) transitions between discrete frailty states, (5) natural history of manifestations of frailty criteria, and (6) behavior modifications as precursors to the development of clinical frailty.

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    ABSTRACT: To help family physicians better recognize frailty and its implications for managing elderly patients. PubMed-MEDLINE was searched from 1990 to 2013. The search was restricted to English-language articles using the following groups of MeSH headings and key words: frail elderly, frail, frailty; aged, geriatrics, geriatric assessment, health services for the aged; and primary health care, community health services, and family practice. Frailty is common, particularly in elderly persons with complex chronic conditions such as heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Emerging evidence demonstrates the value of frailty as a predictor of adverse outcomes in older persons. While there is currently a lack of consensus as to how best to assess and diagnose frailty in primary care practice, individual markers of frailty such as low gait speed offer a promising feasible means of screening for frailty. Identification of frailty in primary care might provide an opportunity to delay the progression of frailty through proactive interventions such as exercise, and awareness of frailty can guide appropriate counseling and anticipatory preventive measures for patients when considering medical interventions. Recognition of frailty might also help identify and optimize the management of coexisting conditions that might contribute to or be affected by frailty. Further research should be directed at identifying feasible and effective ways to appropriately assess and manage these vulnerable patients at the primary care level. Despite its importance, little attention has been given to the concept of frailty in family medicine. Frailty is easily overlooked because its manifestations can be subtle, slowly progressive, and thus dismissed as normal aging; and physician training has been focused on specific medical diseases rather than overall vulnerability. For primary care physicians, recognition of frailty might help them provide appropriate counseling to patients and family members about the risks of medical interventions. Copyright© the College of Family Physicians of Canada.
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    ABSTRACT: Frailty is a major health condition associated with ageing. Although the concept is almost universally accepted, its operational definition remains controversial. Anyway, this geriatric condition represents a huge potential public health issue at both the patient and the societal levels because of its multiple clinical, societal consequences and its dynamic nature. Here, we review existing definitions and assessment tools for frailty, we highlight consequences of this geriatric condition and we discuss the importance of its screening and prevention to limit its public health burden.
    Archives of Public Health 04/2015; 73(1). DOI:10.1186/s13690-015-0068-x
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    ABSTRACT: Background The low physical activity domain of the frailty phenotype has been assessed with various self-reported questionnaires, which are prone to possible recall bias and a lack of diagnostic accuracy. The primary purpose of this study was to define the low physical activity domain of the frailty phenotype using accelerometer-based measurement and to evaluate the internal construct validity among older community-dwellers. Secondly, we examined potential correlates of frailty in this population. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study of 1,527 community-dwelling older men and women aged 65 and over. Data were drawn from the baseline survey of the Sasaguri Genkimon Study, a cohort study carried out in a west Japanese suburban community. Frailty phenotypes were defined by the following five components: unintentional weight loss, low grip strength, exhaustion, slow gait speed, and low physical activity. Of these criteria, physical activity was objectively measured with a tri-axial accelerometer. To confirm our measure’s internal validity, we performed a latent class analysis (LCA) to assess whether the five components could aggregate statistically into a syndrome. We examined the correlates of frailty using multiple stepwise logistic regression models. Results The estimated prevalence of frailty was 9.3% (95% confidence intervals, CI, 8.4-11.2); 43.9% were pre-frail (95% CI, 41.5-46.4). The percentage of low physical activity was 19.5%. Objectively-assessed physical activity and other components aggregated statistically into a syndrome. Overall, increased age, poorer self-perceived health, depressive and anxiety symptoms, not consuming alcohol, no engagement in social activities, and cognitive impairment were associated with increased odds of frailty status, independent of co-morbidities. Conclusions This study confirmed the internal construct validity of the frailty phenotype that defined the low energy expenditure domain with the objective measurement of physical activity. Accelerometry may potentially standardize the measurement of low physical activity and improve the diagnostic accuracy of the frailty phenotype criteria in primary care setting. The potential role of factors associated with frailty merits further studies to explore their clinical application. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12877-015-0037-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
    BMC Geriatrics 04/2015; 15:36. DOI:10.1186/s12877-015-0037-9 · 2.00 Impact Factor

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