OBJECTIVES: Older adults with sarcopenia and malnutrition are at risk for co-morbidities, hospitalization, institutionalization, and mortality. In case of hospitalization, risks may be further increased, especially in case of suboptimal dietary intake. The aim of our study was to assess whether muscle mass, muscle strength, functional performance, and nutritional status at hospital admission were associated with survival and independent living among older patients three months after discharge.
DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS: The EMPOWER study was an observational, prospective and longitudinal inception cohort of patients older than 70 years admitted to the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
MEASUREMENTS: Patients were assessed for demographic and clinical characteristics, measurements of muscle mass (by bioelectrical impedance analysis), handgrip strength (by dynamometry), functional performance (self-reported ability to walk), and screened for risk of malnutrition (by SNAQ). Three months after hospital discharge, survival and living situation were assessed by a follow-up telephone interview.
RESULTS: The majority of the 378 patients enrolled were living independently at the time of hospitalization (90%) and three months post-discharge (83%). Fifty-two patients died in the period from hospital admission to three months after discharge (survival rate 86%). Higher absolute muscle mass measures and not being malnourished at admission were significantly associated with the likelihood of survival. Handgrip strength and self-reported ability to walk were positively associated with a higher chance of living independently three months after discharge, but not with survival.
CONCLUSIONS: Older patients with greater muscle mass and without malnutrition at hospital admission had a higher survival rate, while measures of muscle strength and functional performance were predictive for living independently three months after hospital discharge. Different components of muscle health relate to different relevant outcomes and therefore require investigation of specifically targeted interventions in the hospitalized older population.