Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Frailty syndrome

Frailty syndrome [1-4] was discussed at the last lunchtime meeting. It was something I've certainly used when commenting on patients but hadn't been aware of the (largely) research definitions of the physical phenotype. As you'd expect it is linked with increased risks of morbidity and mortality.

A commonly cited definition is by Fried:
"a clinical syndrome in which three or more of the following criteria were present: unintentional weight loss (10 lbs in past year), self-reported exhaustion, weakness (grip strength), slow walking speed, and low physical activity" [4]
A good clinical pointer is the 'get up and go' test which is often used in geriatric ward rounds to assess a person's mobility and the presence of difficulties that may not be apparent in the history and examination.

1. Santos-Eggimann B, Cuénoud P, Spagnoli J, Junod J. Prevalence of frailty in middle-aged and older community-dwelling Europeans living in 10 countries. J. Gerontol. A Biol. Sci. Med. Sci. 2009;64(6):675-681. Available at: [Accessed March 30, 2011].

2. Abellan van Kan G, Rolland Y, Houles M, et al. The assessment of frailty in older adults. Clin. Geriatr. Med. 2010;26(2):275-286. Available at: [Accessed March 30, 2011].

3. Xue Q. The frailty syndrome: definition and natural history. Clin. Geriatr. Med. 2011;27(1):1-15. Available at: [Accessed March 30, 2011].

4. Fried LP, Tangen CM, Walston J, et al. Frailty in older adults: evidence for a phenotype. J. Gerontol. A Biol. Sci. Med. Sci. 2001;56(3):M146-156. Available at: [Accessed March 30, 2011].

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