Because frailty may represent impaired response to physiological stress we explored the associations between frailty and orthostatic hypotension (OH), and orthostatic intolerance (OI). This study was based on a cross-sectional analysis of 5692 community dwelling adults aged 50 years and older included in wave 1 of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging. Frailty was assessed using both the phenotypic (FP) and frailty index (FI) models. OH was defined as a drop of ≥20 mmHg in systolic blood pressure or a drop of ≥10 mmHg diastolic pressure on standing from a seated position. OI was defined as reporting feeling dizzy, light headed or unsteady during this test. 346 (6.1%) participants had OH and 381 (6.7%) participants had OI. The prevalence OH in frail participants was 8.9%, compared to 5% in robust. Similarly the prevalence of OI was 14.3% in frail and 5.7% in robust participants. After adjustment for age and gender, OH was not significantly related to the FP (OR=1.10 95% CI=0.67, 1.81). Conversely OI was (OR=1.80 95% CI=1.13, 2.87), even after adjustment for age, gender, cardiovascular factors and mental health. In fully adjusted models OI remained related to slowness and low muscle strength and to higher FI scores. These data suggest OI symptoms in older adults may reflect various important underlying health deficits, indicative of increasing levels of frailty. Further assessment of frailty in patients experiencing OI is a potential opportunity for early intervention to delay functional decline.
Keywords: Aging; Epidemiology; Frailty; Orthostatic hypotension; Orthostatic intolerance.
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