Frailty and chronic kidney disease: the Third National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey

Am J Med. 2009 Jul;122(7):664-71.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.01.026.


Background: Frailty is common in the elderly and in persons with chronic diseases. Few studies have examined the association of frailty with chronic kidney disease.

Methods: We used data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to estimate the prevalence of frailty among persons with chronic kidney disease. We created a definition of frailty based on established validated criteria, modified to accommodate available data. We used logistic regression to determine whether and to what degree stages of chronic kidney disease were associated with frailty. We also examined factors that might mediate the association between frailty and chronic kidney disease.

Results: The overall prevalence of frailty was 2.8%. However, among persons with moderate to severe chronic kidney disease (estimated glomerular filtration rate < 45 mL/min/1.73 m2), 20.9% were frail. The odds of frailty were significantly increased among all stages of chronic kidney disease, even after adjustment for the residual effects of age, sex, race, and prevalent chronic diseases. The odds of frailty associated with chronic kidney disease were only marginally attenuated with additional adjustment for sarcopenia, anemia, acidosis, inflammation, vitamin D deficiency, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Frailty and chronic kidney disease were independently associated with mortality.

Conclusion: Frailty is significantly associated with all stages of chronic kidney disease and particularly with moderate to severe chronic kidney disease. Potential mechanisms underlying the chronic kidney disease and frailty connection remain elusive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Composition
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Atrophy / etiology*
  • Muscular Atrophy / mortality
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / mortality
  • United States / epidemiology