One-third of older adults admitted to ICU deemed 'frail'

One-third of older adults admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) were "frail," increasing the risk of death, illness and adverse events, according to a new study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Frailty is characterized by the loss of physical and mental strength that can make people more vulnerable to adverse events. People who are frail are at higher risk of falls, illness, unplanned hospital admissions, complications after surgery, disability and death. A major illness in an is often the catalyst for decline into frailty, which can prevent recovery.

A study of 421 critically ill adults aged 50 years and over in ICUs at 6 hospitals in Alberta, Canada, found that 33% of patients were considered frail based on the Canadian Study on Health and Aging Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS). The mean age of the patients was 67 years, 39% were women, and most (95%) were living at home independently or with help. In addition to being older, frail patients had multiple illnesses and fewer social supports compared with patients who were not frail.

"Despite both groups having similar treatment intensity, frail patients were more likely to experience , had longer lengths of stay in ICU and hospital, and were more likely to die while in hospital and within 12 months after admission," writes Dr. Sean Bagshaw, Division of Critical Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, with coauthors. "Among survivors, frail patients were more likely than nonfrail patients to have new functional dependence at hospital discharge and had higher rates of hospital readmission."

"Our findings suggest that routine assessment of frailty could provide more accurate prognostication and identify a vulnerable population that might benefit from follow-up and intervention," conclude the authors.

More information: www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.130639

Related Stories

Fitness and frailty in adults linked to health outcomes

date Apr 26, 2011

The prevalence of frailty, which is linked to earlier death, increases throughout adulthood as people age and not just after age 65, found an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). Relatively good fitness ...

Thinking you're old and frail

date Apr 09, 2013

Older adults who categorise themselves as old and frail encourage attitudinal and behavioural confirmation of that identity.

Recommended for you

Should there be a dress code for doctors?

date 3 hours ago

If you live near a hospital, you've probably seen the sight: a young physician in loose blue scrubs, standing in line at the grocery store. You can't help but wonder if the young physician is lost. After ...

The importance of long chain fatty acids in early life

date 5 hours ago

Fats are essential constituents of breast milk. They supply the infant with energy, and are also essential for growth and development. Some fatty acids, key components of dietary fats, play an important role ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.