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Frailty: Rising Global Health Burden For An Aging Society

4 years, 1 month ago

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Posted on Oct 16, 2019, 2 p.m.

Frailty is a medical condition, and not an inevitable result of aging; it is not simply an adjective associated with old age, rather a medical condition on its own with significant medical, social and economic implications. However, the biological mechanisms underlying the development of frailty are still not fully understood and translation from research to clinical practice remains a challenge. 

A new series on Frailty published in The Lancet conducted by an international group of experts serves to provide an up to date clinical overview on preventing, identifying and managing frailty as well as the global impact and burden of frailty, and evidenced based interventions for those affected. 

Two emerging lines of life course evidence on frailty were highlighted in the report: 1) the risk of adverse outcomes can be predicted, and 2) there is a clinical syndrome of frailty that is an outcome of biologic aging, and risk levels are higher among those with certain diagnoses and comorbidities. 

Despite the improvements in understanding frailty many gaps remain as no universal consensus exists to its definition or assessments, more robust trials of strategies to prevent and manage frailty are required. 

According to another study published in JAMA the condition it is tended to be regarded as one that typically meets 3 of 5 criteria: weak grip strength, slow walking speed, low energy, non-deliberate weight loss, and low physical activity. It is associated with lower quality of life and increased risk of death, hospitalization, and institutionalization. This condition typically occurs among the elderly, but it can occur in younger people with one or more disabling chronic diseases. 

Upwards of 20% of the entire world population will be aged 60+ by the year 2050, meaning the number of those diagnosed with frailty will increase. The future does not have to be bad as studies show that interventions such as muscle strength training and protein supplementation may help to prevent or delay the progression of frailty. Regular screening to assess vulnerability will help ensure interventions can be implemented in a timely manner.

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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.

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