Background: We aimed to calculate 3-year incidence of multimorbidity, defined as the development of two or more chronic diseases in a population of older people free from multimorbidity at baseline. Secondly, we aimed to identify predictors of incident multimorbidity amongst life-style related indicators, medical conditions and biomarkers.
Methods: Data were gathered from 418 participants in the first follow up of the Kungsholmen Project (Stockholm, Sweden, 1991-1993, 78+ years old) who were not affected by multimorbidity (149 had none disease and 269 one disease), including a social interview, a neuropsychological battery and a medical examination.
Results: After 3 years, 33.6% of participants who were without disease and 66.4% of those with one disease at baseline, developed multimorbidity: the incidence rate was 12.6 per 100 person-years (95% CI: 9.2-16.7) and 32.9 per 100 person-years (95% CI: 28.1-38.3), respectively. After adjustments, worse cognitive function (OR, 95% CI, for 1 point lower Mini-Mental State Examination: 1.22, 1.00-1.48) was associated with increased risk of multimorbidity among subjects with no disease at baseline. Higher age was the only predictor of multimorbidity in persons with one disease at baseline.
Conclusions: Multimorbidity has a high incidence at old age. Mental health-related symptoms are likely predictors of multimorbidity, suggesting a strong impact of mental disorders on the health of older people.