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Slower Walking Speed Linked to Surgical Risk in Elderly
Date:10/27/2011

ne complication following surgery, compared with 37 percent of the slow group.

Nearly 60 percent of slow walkers who had a colorectal operation needed institutional care after surgery, compared with 5 percent of the fast group, the study found. Of these, slow walkers spent eight more days in the hospital than fast walkers, and just 20 percent of fast walkers had more than one surgical complication, compared with 56 percent of the slow group.

"Our study showed that this timed-up-and-go test is a very sharp predictor of complications and mortality," said study co-author Dr. Daniel Wu, chief surgical resident at Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center, in the news release. "It's a cheap and simple test that may eventually lead to a change in preoperative care. You really only need a stopwatch to perform this test and the implications are huge."

Since more than half of all operations in the Unites States are performed on people aged 65 years and older, the authors said that better ways to define surgical risks are critical.

"The bottom line is that we can no longer assess 80-year-olds in the same way as 25-year-olds," said Wu in the release.

The authors said they plan to conduct more research on other indications of frailty in the elderly, such as cognition, nutritional status and grip strength to create a comprehensive test to better determine surgical risks among older patients.

The study was slated for presentation on Wednesday at the 2011 Annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons. With studies presented at medical meetings, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The University of Chicago's Department of Disability and Human Development provides more information on frailty in the elderly.


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