Chronic diseases and geriatric syndromes: The different weight of comorbidity
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BACKGROUND: Comorbidity is a relevant health determinant in older adults. Co-occurrence of several diseases and other age-associated conditions generates new clinical phenotypes (geriatric syndromes [GS] as falls, delirium etc.). We investigated the association of chronic diseases, alone or in combination, and GS in older adults receiving home care services in 11 European countries and one Canadian province. METHODS: Participants were cross-sectionally evaluated with the multidimensional assessment instrument RAI HC. We assessed 14 different diagnoses and 8 GS (pain, urinary incontinence, falls, disability, dizziness, weight loss, pressure ulcers and delirium). Adjusted mean number of GS per participant was calculated for groups of participants with each disease when occurring alone or with comorbidity. RESULTS: The mean age of the 6903 participants was 82.2±7.4 years and 4750 (69%) were women. Participants presented with an average of 2.6 diseases and 2.0 GS: pain (48%), urinary incontinence (47%) and falls (33%) were the most prevalent. Parkinson's disease, cerebrovascular disease and peripheral artery disease were associated with the highest number of GS (2.5, 2.3 and 2.2, respectively). Conversely, hypertension, diabetes, dementia, cancer and thyroid dysfunction were associated with the lowest number of GS (2.0 on average). For 9/14 examined diseases (hypertension, diabetes, dementia, COPD, heart failure, ischemic heart disease, atrial fibrillation, cancer and thyroid dysfunction) the number of GS increased with the degree of comorbidity. CONCLUSIONS: Comorbidity and GS are prevalent in older adults receiving home care. Different diseases have a variable impact on occurrence of GS. Comorbidity is not always associated with an increased number of GS.
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