Background: Little is known about the relationship between cardiac dysfunction and poor functioning in the elderly. This study sought to describe the prevalence of cardiac dysfunction in the very elderly and to investigate the correlation between echocardiographic abnormalities and indicators of poor functioning.
Methods: A cross-sectional analysis within the BELFRAIL (BF(C80+)) study of 567 subjects aged 80 years and older. The clinical research assistant performed an examination including performance testing, questionnaires and technical examinations. Echocardiography was performed at the subject's home by a cardiologist using a portable system.
Results: The mean age of the participants was 84.7 years and 62.9% were women. Severe cardiac dysfunction was found in 19.3% and was defined as systolic dysfunction (5.8%), valvular heart disease (10.4%) or isolated severe diastolic dysfunction (3.1%). Severe cardiac dysfunction showed to be an independent identifier of poor performance (OR 1.8 (95% CI 1.1-3.2)), a low LAPAQ (LASA Physical Activity Questionnaire) score (OR 1.9 (95% CI 1.2-3.3)) and a high GDS-15 (Geriatric Depression Scale) score (OR 1.7 (95% CI 1.0-2.9)). This relationship was mainly explained by the independent correlation between aortic stenosis and poor functioning. Classic indicators of systolic and diastolic dysfunction were not able to identify participants with poor functioning.
Conclusion: This study shows the very elderly represent a heterogeneous group of subjects with a high prevalence of comorbidities, among whom poor functioning might be triggered by multiple causes. Severe cardiac dysfunction, and more specifically aortic stenosis, showed an independent relationship with poor functioning.
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