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Gait speed measurements aid prognosis of elderly

Friday June 7th, 2019

A simple test of walking speed is a key prognostic indicator for elderly patients with haematological cancers, researchers have reported.

A study in Boston, USA, has found a close link between walking speed and outcomes for these patients, over the age of 75.

According to the study, reported in Blood, very reduction in speed of 0.1 metre per second was linked to a 22% increased risk of dying and a 33% increase in risk of unplanned hospital admission.

The test used in Boston involved patients walking just four metres. 448 patients took part in the study.

Doctors found the link was strongest for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Researcher Dr Jane Driver, of the Dana Farber Older Adult Hematologic Malignancy Program, said: "There is an unmet need for brief screening tests for frailty that can easily fit into clinic workflow and predict important clinical outcomes. This test can be done in less than a minute and takes no longer than measuring blood pressure or other vital signs.

"Based on our findings, it is as good as other commonly used methods which take considerably more time and resources and may not be practical for many oncology clinics."

Fellow researcher Dr Gregory Abel said: "Our study reveals that the current standard of care for functional assessment in oncology - performance status - is not sufficient for elders with blood cancers. Gait speed appears to be much better at differentiating those patients at highest risk for poor outcomes."

Blood 5 June 2019

http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2019000758

Tags: Cancer | Elderly Health | Fitness | North America

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