JOURNAL ARTICLE

Factors associated with lower gait speed among the elderly living in a developing country: a cross-sectional population-based study

Telma de Almeida Busch, Yeda Aparecida Duarte, Daniella Pires Nunes, Maria Lucia Lebrão, Michel Satya Naslavsky, Anelise dos Santos Rodrigues, Edson Amaro
BMC Geriatrics 2015, 15: 35
25880124

BACKGROUND: Among community-dwelling older adults, mean values for gait speed vary substantially depending not only on the population studied, but also on the methodology used. Despite the large number of studies published in developed countries, there are few population-based studies in developing countries with socioeconomic inequality and different health conditions, and this is the first study with a representative sample of population. To explore this, the association of lower gait speed with sociodemographic, anthropometric factors, mental status and physical health was incorporated participants' weight (main weight) in the analysis of population of community-dwelling older adults living in a developing country.

METHODS: This was a cross-sectional population based on a sample of 1112 older adults aged 60 years and over from Health, Wellbeing and Aging Study cohort 2010. Usual gait speed (s) to walk 3 meters was stratified by sex and height into quartiles. Multiple regression analysis was performed to investigate the independent effect of each factor associated with a slower usual gait speed.

RESULTS: The average walking speed of the elderly was 0.81 m/s-0.78 m/s among women and 0.86 m/s among men. In the final model, the factors associated with lower gait speed were age (OR = 3.56), literacy (OR = 3.20), difficulty in one or more IADL (OR = 2.74), presence of cardiovascular disease (OR = 2.15) and sedentarism. When we consider the 50% slower, we can add the variables handgrip strength, and the presence of COPD.

CONCLUSIONS: Gait speed is a clinical marker and an important measure of functional capacity among the elderly. Our findings suggest that lower walking speed is associated with age, education, but especially with modifiable factors such as impairment of IADL, physical inactivity and cardiovascular disease. These results reinforce how important it is for the elderly to remain active and healthy.

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