Objective Sarcopaenia and physical function impairment may have a greater effect on survival than other clinical characteristics, including multimorbidity. In this study, we evaluated the impact of sarcopaenia on all-cause mortality and the interaction among muscle loss, physical function impairment and multimorbidity on mortality risk over 10 years in older community-dwellers.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting Population-based study.
Participants All persons aged 80+ years living in the community in the Sirente geographic area (L'Aquila, Italy) (n=364). Participants were categorised in the sarcopaenic or non-sarcopaenic group based on the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People criteria.
Primary and secondary outcome measures (1) All-cause mortality over 10 years according to the presence of sarcopaenia and (2) impact of physical function impairment, assessed using the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), and multimorbidity on 10-year mortality risk in persons with sarcopaenia.
Results Sarcopaenia was identified in 103 participants (29.1%). A total of 253 deaths were recorded over 10 years: 90 among sarcopaenic participants (87.4%) and 162 among non-sarcopaenic persons (65.1%; p<0.001). Participants with sarcopaenia had a higher risk of death than those without sarcopaenia (HR=2.15; 95% CI 1.02 to 4.54). When examining the effect of sarcopaenia and physical function impairment on mortality, participants with low physical performance levels showed greater mortality. Conversely, the mortality risk was unaffected by multimorbidity.
Conclusions Our findings show that physical function impairment, but not multimorbidity, is predictive of mortality in older community-dwellers with sarcopaenia. Hence, in sarcopaenic older persons, interventions against functional decline may be more effective at preventing or postponing negative health outcomes than those targeting multimorbidity.
- physical function
- frail elderly
- adverse outcome
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