HDL-cholesterol and physical performance: results from the ageing and longevity study in the sirente geographic area (ilSIRENTE Study)

Age Ageing. 2007 Sep;36(5):514-20. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afm105.


Background: High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol has been hypothesised to be a reliable marker of frailty and poor prognosis among the oldest elderly. We evaluate the relationship of HDL-cholesterol with measures of physical performance, muscle strength, and functional status in older persons aged 80years or older.

Methods: Data are from baseline evaluation of the ageing and longevity study in the Sirente geographic area (ilSIRENTE study) (n = 364). Physical performance was assessed using the physical performance battery score [short physical performance battery (SPPB)], which is based on three-timed tests: 4-m walking-speed, balance, and chair-stand tests. Muscle strength was measured by hand-grip strength. Analyses of covariance were performed to evaluate the relationship of different HDL-cholesterol levels with physical function.

Results: In the unadjusted analyses, physical function (as measured by the 4-m walking-speed, theSPPB score, the basic and instrumental activities of daily living scales scores), but not hand-grip strength, improved significantly as HDL-cholesterol tertiles increased. After adjustment for potential confounders, which included age, gender, living alone, alcohol abuse, physical activity, congestive heart failure, diabetes, cerebrovascular diseases, osteoarthritis, albumin, urea, C-reactive protein and LDL cholesterol, the association of HDL-cholesterol tertiles with the 4-m walking-speed and the SPPB score was still consistent.

Conclusion: The present study suggests that among very old subjects living in the community the higher levels of HDL-cholesterol are associated with better functional performance.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Longevity*
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Postural Balance
  • Walking


  • Cholesterol, HDL