Objective: Functional decline is a major threat to independency, progressing into functional limitations and eventually leading to disability. Chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases, are important determinants of functional limitations and disability. Vascular damage exits long before it is clinically manifest and can have adverse effects on health, physical and cognitive functioning. The objective was to investigate the association between non-invasive atherosclerosis measures and physical functioning in older men. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: The study was conducted in the general community. Participants: 195 independently living older men. Measurements: Atherosclerosis was measured by intima media thickness (CIMT) of the common carotid artery using ultrasonography and assessment for presence of atherosclerotic plaques. Physical functioning was measured by isometric handgrip strength and leg extensor strength using a hand held dynamometer, lower extremity function using the physical performance score and ability to perform activities of daily life using the modified Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire. Linear regression analysis was performed to estimate the associations between CIMT or plaques and physical functioning. Results: After adjustment for confounders, higher baseline CIMT was associated with lower isometric handgrip strength at follow up (βCIMT=-7.21, 95% CI[-13.64;-0.77]). No other associations were found between CIMT and physical functioning. In addition, no associations were found for the presence of plaques and physical functioning either at baseline, or at follow-up. Conclusion: Atherosclerosis, as measured by higher CIMT, is related to a lower isometric handgrip strength at follow-up, but no further associations with physical functioning were found in this longitudinal study among independently living older men.

Non-invasive atherosclerosis measures, carotid intima media thickness, elderly, grip strength, physical function
dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12603-012-0424-2, hdl.handle.net/1765/39280
Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Den Ouden, M.E.M, Schuurmans, M.J, Arts, E.M.A, Grobbee, D.E, Bots, M.L, van den Beld, A.W, … van der Schouw, Y.T. (2013). Atherosclerosis and physical functioning in older men, a longitudinal study. Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, 17(1), 97–104. doi:10.1007/s12603-012-0424-2