Identify your frail clients! You may be able to extend their health span!
Frailty and physical fitness in elderly people: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Navarrete-Villanueva, D., et al. (2021). Level of Evidence: 1a- Follow recommendation: 👍 👍 👍 👍 Type of study: Prognostic, Preventative, Therapeutic Topic: Frailty – How to identify it This is a systematic review of cross-sectional and randomised controlled studies assessing the relationship between physical fitness and frailty (function and biological aging). Twenty studies were included in the meta-analysis for a total of 13,527 participants (average age range: 71-83 years old). The overall quality of evidence was assessed through the COSMOS-E approach ("low", "moderate", "high"), which is a tool to assess risk of bias in observational studies. There was moderate to low quality evidence showing that walking speed (6 minutes walking test - 6MWT), lower limb strength, and grip strength were able to differentiate between frail and robust participants. All robust participants had more than 20kg of grip strength, while 60% of the frail participants had less than 20kg of grip strength. Clinical Take Home Message: Based on what we know today, several measures of physical fitness can discriminate between frail vs robust clients. The most useful measure appears to be walking speed that can be measured through the 6MWT (you can find the age and sex normative values in this paper - see picture below - this was my favourite paper when I was assessing clients through the 6MWT at the DHB). If you do not have the resources or you do not feel comfortable performing a 6MWT, hand grip strength is still a useful tool to screen your clients and we perform this test routinely. It appears that grip strength below 20kg may indicate that the client is fragile. The reason why I am interested in identifying fragile clients is that they are more likely to have an upper limb or lower limb fracture in the future. We may may be able to reduce the likelihood of these injuries by inviting them to take at least 8,000 steps/day. Thus, a greater number of daily steps has been shown to reduce mortality in previous studies. In addition, general resistance training may increase grip strength and overall strength, which is another predictor of mortality. URL: Available through EBSCO Health Databases for PNZ members. Abstract Background: Frailty is an age-related condition that implies a vulnerability status affecting quality of life and independence of the elderly. Physical fitness is closely related to frailty, as some of its components are used for the detection of this condition. Objectives: This systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to investigate the magnitude of the associations between frailty and different physical fitness components and to analyse if several health-related factors can act as mediators in the relationship between physical fitness and frailty. Methods: A systematic search was conducted of PubMed, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science, covering the period from the respective start date of each database to March 2020, published in English, Spanish or Portuguese. Two investigators evaluated 1649 studies against the inclusion criteria (cohort and cross-sectional studies in humans aged ≥ 60 years that measured physical fitness with validated tests and frailty according to the Fried Frailty Phenotype or the Rockwood Frailty Index). The quality assessment tool for observational cross-sectional studies was used to assess the quality of the studies. Results: Twenty studies including 13,527 participants met the inclusion criteria. A significant relationship was found between frailty and each physical fitness component. Usual walking speed was the physical fitness variable most strongly associated with frailty status, followed by aerobic capacity, maximum walking speed, lower body strength and grip strength. Potential mediators such as age, sex, body mass index or institutionalization status did not account for the heterogeneity between studies following a meta-regression. Conclusions: Taken together, these findings suggest a clear association between physical fitness components and frailty syndrome in elderly people, with usual walking speed being the most strongly associated fitness test. These results may help to design useful strategies, to attenuate or prevent frailty in elders.