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Gait Speed Is Prognostic in Older Patients With Blood Cancer

Decrease in gait speed linked to higher mortality, increased odds of unplanned hospitalization, ED use

caretaker and elderly man

THURSDAY, June 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- For older patients with blood cancers, gait speed can identify frailty and predict outcomes, according to a study published online June 5 in Blood.

Michael A. Liu, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues examined whether gait speed and grip strength can predict clinical outcomes among older adults with blood cancers. A total of 448 patients aged 75 years and older were included; a subset of 314 patients followed for six months or more was assessed for unplanned hospital or emergency department use.

The researchers found that every 0.1 m/s decrease in gait speed was associated with higher mortality (hazard ratio, 1.22) and increased odds of unplanned hospitalizations (odds ratio, 1.33) and emergency department visits (odds ratio, 1.34) after adjustment for age, sex, Charlson comorbidity index, cognition, treatment intensity, and cancer aggressiveness/type. Among patients with good Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, the associations persisted. Every 5-kg decrease in grip strength correlated with worse survival (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.24); there was no correlation with hospital or emergency department use.

"Our work supports the integration of gait speed into both routine clinical assessment and clinical trials of blood cancer patients, where it could serve as both an important predictor as well as an outcome, tracking changes in function and frailty over time while on novel or existing therapies," the authors write.

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