Frailty Among Older Decompensated Heart Failure Patients: Prevalence, Association With Patient-Centered Outcomes, and Efficient Detection Methods

Ambarish Pandey, Dalane Kitzman, David J. Whellan, Pamela W. Duncan, Robert J. Mentz, Amy M. Pastva, M. Benjamin Nelson, Bharathi Upadhya, Haiying Chen, Gordon R. Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study sought to assess the prevalence of frailty, its associations with physical function, quality of life (QoL), cognition, and depression and to investigate more efficient methods of detection in older patients hospitalized with acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF). Background: In contrast to the outpatient population with chronic HF, much less is known regarding frailty in older, hospitalized patients with ADHF. Methods: Older hospitalized patients (N = 202) with ADHF underwent assessment of frailty (using Fried criteria), short physical performance battery (SPPB), 6-min walk test (6-MWT) distance, quality of life (QoL using the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire), cognition (using the Montreal Cognition Assessment), and depression (using the Geriatric Depression Screen [GDS]). The associations of frailty with these patient-centered outcomes were assessed by using adjusted linear regression models. Novel strategies to identify frailty were examined. Results: A total of 50% of older, hospitalized patients with ADHF were frail, 48% were pre-frail, and 2% were non-frail. Female sex, burden of comorbidity, and prior HF hospitalization were significantly associated with higher likelihood of frailty. Frailty (vs. pre-frail status) was associated with a significantly worse SPPB score (5 ± 2.2 vs. 7 ± 2.4, respectively), 6-MWT distance (143 ± 79 m vs. 221 ± 99 m, respectively), QoL (35 ± 19 vs. 46 ± 21, respectively), and more depression (GDS score: 5.5 ± 3.5 vs. 4.2 ± 3.3, respectively) but similar cognition. These associations were unchanged after adjustment for age, sex, race, total comorbidities, and body mass index. Slow gait speed plus low physical activity signaled frailty status as well (C-statistic = 0.85). Conclusions: Ninety-eight percent of older, hospitalized patients with ADHF are frail or pre-frail. Frailty (vs. pre-frail status) is associated with worse physical function, QoL, comorbidity, and depression. The simple 4-m walk test combined with self-reported physical activity may quickly and efficiently identify frailty in older patients with ADHF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1079-1088
Number of pages10
JournalJACC: Heart Failure
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • acute heart failure
  • aging
  • frailty
  • functional status
  • quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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