Frailty: A Vital Sign for Older Adults With Cardiovascular Disease.
Mechanisms of aging predispose to cardiovascular disease (CVD), as well as to aggregate health challenges. For older adults, CVD is likely to exist in combination with comorbid conditions, disability, polypharmacy, falling risks, and body composition changes. These other dimensions of health result in cumulative weakening with greater clinical complexity that confound basic precepts of CVD presentation, prognosis, and treatments. A convenient operational tool is needed to gauge this age-related vulnerability such that it can be integrated in the evaluation and treatment of CVD. Frailty is a concept that is neither disease- nor age-specific, but is used to characterize the reserve that a person has available to tolerate stresses associated with aging, disease, and even therapy. Frailty arises from specific biological mechanisms in association with cumulative physiological decrements, psychosocial stresses, and physical impairments. Performance-based and survey tools have been developed and tested to measure frailty. Although different frailty tools vary in practicality, measured domains, and precise applications, all are useful in identifying risks that commonly accrue with age. Although comparisons between frailty tools are ongoing and sometimes even controversial, the rationale to integrate routine use of frailty screening as part of routine care is relatively straightforward and easy to envision. Frailty assessment applied as a vital sign (for standard maintenance and evaluation of new symptoms) enhances perspectives of risk, decision-making, and opportunities for tailored CVD management.
Forman, DE; Alexander, KP
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