Indexed on: 27 Mar '10Published on: 27 Mar '10Published in: Revista Española de Geriatría y Gerontología
Subclinical atherosclerosis is associated with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, but its relationship with functional limitation as a precursor of disability has not been determined.A longitudinal cohort study was performed in 171 high-functioning community-dwelling adults aged more than 64 years old (mean age 73.7 years, 110 women). All received a carotid ultrasound examination at the beginning of the study. Subclinical atherosclerosis was determined by the presence or absence of atherosclerotic plaques and the sum of the diameters of all the plaques (SDP) in the carotid bilateral tree. Subjects were followed-up at 12 months. The association between subclinical atherosclerosis and functional limitation was assessed with the Timed Up and Go test (TUG) at entry and at 1 year, adjusted by demographic, functional, affective, cognitive and cardiovascular risk factors as covariables.At 1 year after baseline, 37 subjects (21.6%) performed the TUG 20% more slowly: 30 with plaque (30.7%) and seven without plaque (9.5%) (p=0.001). Those with plaque had an adjusted increased risk of performing the TUG 20% more slowly than those without plaque [OR 5.5, 95% CI 2.2-15.8]. SDP was 1.48 mm greater in subjects with more than 20% slowing on the TUG [3.34 vs 1.85; 95% CI 0.52-2.44]. For each 2-mm increment in the SDP, subjects had a 1.9-fold greater adjusted risk of performing the TUG 20% more slowly at 1 year [95% CI 1.4-2.5].Subclinical atherosclerosis is an independent predictor of functional limitation at 1 year in high-functioning older adults.