Objective Functional decline is a major threat to independency, progressing into functional limitations and eventually leading to disability. Chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases, are important determinants of functional limitations and disability. Vascular damage exits long before it is clinically manifest and can have adverse effects on health, physical and cognitive functioning. The objective was to investigate the association between non-invasive atherosclerosis measures and physical functioning in older men.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting The study was conducted in the general community. Participants 195 independently living older men.
Measurements Atherosclerosis was measured by intima media thickness (CIMT) of the common carotid artery using ultrasonography and assessment for presence of atherosclerotic plaques. Physical functioning was measured by isometric handgrip strength and leg extensor strength using a hand held dynamometer, lower extremity function using the physical performance score and ability to perform activities of daily life using the modified Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire. Linear regression analysis was performed to estimate the associations between CIMT or plaques and physical functioning.
Results After adjustment for confounders, higher baseline CIMT was associated with lower isometric handgrip strength at follow up (βCIMT =−7.21, 95% CI[−13.64;−0.77]). No other associations were found between CIMT and physical functioning. In addition, no associations were found for the presence of plaques and physical functioning either at baseline, or at follow-up.
Conclusion Atherosclerosis, as measured by higher CIMT, is related to a lower isometric handgrip strength at follow-up, but no further associations with physical functioning were found in this longitudinal study among independently living older men