Gait speed provides simple measure of survival in older patients

March 4, 2011
RheumatologyNetwork Staff

The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine, The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine Vol 28 No 3, Volume 28, Issue 3

Gait speed, known to be associated with survival in older adults, may be a simple and accessible indicator of health in these patients. Gait speed, age, and sex may offer clinicians tools for assessing expected survival to contribute to tailoring care goals in older patients.

Gait speed, known to be associated with survival in older adults, may be a simple and accessible indicator of health in these patients. Gait speed, age, and sex may offer clinicians tools for assessing expected survival to contribute to tailoring care goals in older patients.

Studenski and colleagues studied the relationship between gait speed and survival, before and after accounting for age and sex, in a pooled sample of 34,485 community-based older patients enrolled in 9 cohort studies. All patients had baseline gait speed data available. Functional status assessment was based on the patient’s need or lack of need for help with activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental ADLs (shopping, meal preparation, etc). Survival was monitored for 5 or more years.

For each sex and age, longevity paralleled gait speed. This extension in survival was significant for each 0.1 m/s increase in speed. A gait speed of about 0.8 m/s was associated with average life expectancy. However, at a gait speed of 1.0 m/s, both men and women consistently outlived predictions based on age and sex alone.

The authors noted that gait speed might help refine survival estimates in clinical practice or research because it is simple and informative.