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Frailty in Older Women may be due to Chronic Infection

In an interesting study it was found that older women suffering from chronic cytomegalovirus// (CMV)(a lifelong viral infection- acquired early in life) were found to have more than triple the risk of being frail than those who did not have the infection. This was reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. This is the first time an association between CMV and frailty syndrome has been shown. CMV is a common lifelong infection but it usually does not cause symptoms in healthy adults.

700 female participants between the ages of 70 to 79 years were used in the study, conducted at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Further data also showed that women who had both the viral infection and high levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a marker of inflammatory response, were even more likely to be frail than those who had either alone.

“It is not clear why, with age, some people become frail, but frailty has been linked to inflammation,” said Heidi N. Schmaltz, MDCM, author of the study. “Patients who are frail are more likely to be hospitalized, fall, develop disability, and die than their peers. Thus, it is critical to understand what causes people to become frail and what potential treatments could decrease risk of poor outcomes in those who are frail, particularly with the aging population.”

About the Authors:
Dr. Heidi N. Schmaltz
Clinical Assistant Professor
University of Calgary, Canada
heidi.schmaltz@calgaryhealthregion.ca.

Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH
Professor and Director of the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health and the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology.
Richard D. Semba, MD, MPH
Associate Professor in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicne.
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