A new research addressing frailty in middle-aged people highlights that frailty could be an important issue for younger people too, particularly those with chronic multiple illness. Findings that were published in the journal The Lancet Public Health identified frailty in both men and women of all ages between 37-73 years. Frailty was associated with mortality in men of all ages included and in women aged 45-73 years.
Researchers evaluated 493,737 participants (aged, 37-73 years) from the UK Biobank. Frailty phenotype indicators: weight loss, exhaustion, grip strength, low physical activity and slow walking pace classified frailty into frail (meeting ≥3 criteria), pre-frail (meeting 1-2 criteria) and not frail (no criteria met).
3% and 38% of the study participants were frail and pre-frail, respectively. Frailty was associated with more than 2-times increased risk for mortality in men aged between 37-73 years and women aged ≥45 years. Importantly, this association persisted even after adjusting for long-term conditions, sociodemographics and lifestyle. Frailty was highly prevalent in people with multiple chronic health conditions (18% in those with ≥4 long-term multimorbid conditions) and was strongly associated with multimorbidity (OR, 27.1; 95% CI, 25.3-29.1).
Lead author, Professor Frances Mair comments: “Interventions to reverse frailty or improve patient outcomes have, almost exclusively, focussed on the very elderly or those in long-term care.” He further adds, “There is a need for a change in focus, to start identifying frailty and intervene much earlier. The hope is, with earlier identification and intervention, frailty can be reversed in some patients.”