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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Frailty and 10-year mortality in community-living Mexican American older adults

James E Graham, Soham Al Snih, Ivonne M Berges, Laura A Ray, Kyriakos S Markides, Kenneth J Ottenbacher
Gerontology 2009, 55 (6): 644-51
19690395

BACKGROUND: The older Hispanic population of the United States is growing rapidly. Hispanic older adults have relatively high-risk profiles for increased morbidity and disability, yet little is known about how the construct of frailty is related to health trajectories in this population.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between frailty and 10-year mortality in older community-dwelling Mexican Americans.

METHODS: Data were from the Hispanic Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly and included 1,996 Mexican Americans, aged 65 and older, living in the southwestern US. Primary measures included mortality and a 5-item frailty index comprised of weight loss, exhaustion, walking speed, grip strength, and physical activity.

RESULTS: Mean baseline age was 74.5 years (SD 6.1) and 58.5% were women. Baseline frailty assessments yielded the following distribution: 44.9% non-frail, 47.3% pre-frail, and 7.8% frail. Overall, 892 (44.7%) participants died during the 10-year study period. Hazard ratios (HR), adjusted for sociodemographic, health, and medical factors, demonstrated increased odds for mortality in the pre-frail (HR = 1.25, 95% confidence interval, CI(95%), 1.07-1.46) and frail (HR = 1.81, CI(95%) 1.41-2.31) groups compared to the non-frail cohort.

CONCLUSION: The 5-item frailty index differentiated odds of 10-year mortality in older community-dwelling Mexican Americans. This clinical index has the potential to identify older minorities at risk for poor health outcomes and mortality.

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