Relationships between self-reported dyspnea, health conditions and frailty among Brazilian community-dwelling older adults: a cross-sectional study


Sao Paulo Medical Journal




ABSTRACT CONTEXT: Dyspnea is a symptom present in several chronic diseases commonly seen among older adults. Since individuals with dyspnea tend to stay at rest, with consequently reduced levels of physical activity, they are likely to be at greater risk of developing frailty, especially at older ages. DESIGN AND SETTING: Cross-sectional study at community level, Brazil. OBJECTIVE: To analyze the relationships between self-reported dyspnea, health conditions and frailty status in a sample of community-dwelling older adults. METHOD: Secondary data from the follow-up of the Frailty in Brazilian Elderly (FIBRA) study, involving 415 community-dwelling older adults (mean age: 80.3 ± 4.68 years), were used. The variables analyzed were sociodemographic characteristics, reported dyspnea, clinical data and frailty phenotype. Associations between dyspnea and other variables (age, sex, education and body mass index) were verified through the crude (c) and adjusted (a) odds ratios. RESULTS: The prevalence of dyspnea in the entire sample was 21.0%. Dyspnea was more present in individuals with pulmonary diseases, heart disease, cancer and depression. Older adults with multimorbidities (adjusted odds ratio, ORa = 2.91; 95% confidence interval, CI = 1.41-5.99) and polypharmacy (ORa = 2.02; 95% CI = 1.15-3.54) were more likely to have dyspnea. Those who reported dyspnea were 2.54 times more likely to be frail (ORa = 2.54; 95% CI = 1.08-5.97), and fatigue was their most prevalent phenotype component. CONCLUSION: Dyspnea was associated with different diseases, multimorbidities, polypharmacy and frailty. Recognizing the factors associated with dyspnea may contribute to its early identification and prevention of its negative outcomes among older adults.

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