HealthDay News — For older adults, reduced physical function is associated with the risk for composite and individual cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Xiao Hu, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues studied 5570 participants (mean age, 75 years) at visit 5 (2011 to 2013) of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. Physical function was assessed with the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) and the score was modeled categorically (low, intermediate, and high) and continuously. The associations between SPPB score and subsequent composite (coronary heart disease, stroke, or heart failure) and individual CVD outcomes (components within the composite outcome) were assessed.

The researchers found that 13%, 30%, and 57% of study participants had low, intermediate, and high SPPB scores, respectively. There were 930 composite CVD events (386 coronary heart disease, 251 stroke, and 529 heart failure cases) during a median follow-up of 7 years. After adjustment for potential confounders, the hazard ratios of composite CVD in those with low and intermediate versus high SPPB scores were 1.47 and 1.25, respectively. Independent associations were seen for continuous SPPB score with each CVD outcome. Largely consistent associations were seen across subgroups, including those with prevalent CVD at baseline. The C-statistics of CVD outcomes were significantly improved with the addition of SPPB to traditional CVD risk factors.

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“Our results suggest the potential usefulness of SPPB for classifying CVD risk in older adults,” the authors write.

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