Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Anemia Is Risk Factor For Physical Decline In Older Adults

Date:
August 5, 2003
Source:
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Summary:
Older adults with anemia are twice as likely to have a significant decline in physical performance that could threaten their independence, report researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in the current issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Older adults with anemia are twice as likely to have a significant decline in physical performance that could threaten their independence, report researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in the current issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

"Our results suggest that anemia is an independent risk factor for physical decline, which puts older adults at higher risk for nursing home admission, disability and death," said Brenda Penninx, Ph.D., associate professor of gerontology. "Future research should explore whether the treatment of late-life anemia helps preserve physical function."

Researchers measured whether anemia was related to physical performance over a four-year period. Anemia, which is a reduced level of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, affects about 13 percent of people over age 70. It has a variety of causes, from iron or vitamin B-12 deficiencies to chronic diseases such as cancer or liver disease.

The study involved 1,146 adults age 71 and older. The researchers measured physical performance using tests of standing balance, walking speed and ability to rise from a chair. Previous studies illustrated that these tests can predict the likelihood of nursing home admission, mortality, hospitalization and later disability.

Penninx and colleagues found that in participants with anemia, the mean decline in physical performance was 2.3 points on a 12-point scale. For those without anemia, the mean decline was 1.4 points.

"Participants with anemia were 2.1 times more likely than non-anemic subjects to decline substantially in performance, which we defined as a three-point decline over four years," said Penninx. "Subjects with borderline anemia were 1.5 times more likely to have a substantial decline."

A three-point, or 25 percent, decline in physical performance has been shown to increase the risk of hospitalization by 150 percent, the risk of nursing home administration by 200 percent and the risk of disability by 400 percent.

"This finding demonstrates that anemia is often associated with high risk of decline of health and well-being in older individuals, and suggests that treating anemia may slow down this process" says Luigi Ferrucci, M.D., a co-author of the study and Director of the National Institute of Aging's Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. "It also highlights the need for additional study of other factors that may be associated with physical decline among older people."

Penninx said the relationship between anemia and physical decline was also present in people without diseases associated with anemia, such as cancer and kidney failure – showing that anemia itself is a risk factor – not just the underlying disease. The researchers also adjusted for other factors that might affect the results, such as age, sex, cigarette smoking and blood pressure, and found that anemia is an independent risk factor.

The researchers hypothesize that anemia may affect physical function because it causes people to feel weak, increasing the chance of falling. Because it reduces oxygen levels in the blood, muscle weakness may result. In addition, anemia may cause blood vessels to dilate to compensate for lower oxygen levels. This can cause changes to the cardiovascular system, including congestive heart failure. Anemia is typically a result of cancer or kidney disease or other conditions. But, about 30 percent of cases in older adults are not related to underlying conditions and are not linked to nutrition, said Penninx.

She said anemia is a condition that is relatively unexplored by researchers.

"Our research suggests that anemia deserves more attention," said Penninx. "It seems to be an important risk factor for physical decline and is potentially treatable. We need to learn whether treatment can help restore physical function or prevent a physical decline." The data was collected as part of the Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, Data analyses were supported through Ortho Biotech Products, L.P.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Anemia Is Risk Factor For Physical Decline In Older Adults." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030728080823.htm>.
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. (2003, August 5). Anemia Is Risk Factor For Physical Decline In Older Adults. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030728080823.htm
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Anemia Is Risk Factor For Physical Decline In Older Adults." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030728080823.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins