Functional ability in younger and older elderlies after discharge from the intensive care unit. A prospective cohort
ABSTRACT Objective: To compare the functional capacity of younger elderly individuals (60 to 79 years old) with that of older elderly individuals (≥ 80 years old) during the first 6 months after discharge from the intensive care unit. Methods: A multicenter prospective cohort study was conducted, in which data on intensive care unit admission and outcomes after hospital discharge (immediate post-discharge, after 3 months and after 6 months) were collected. Muscle strength was evaluated through the protocol of the Medical Research Council and dynamometry (handgrip); the ability to perform activities of daily life and functional independence were assessed by the Barthel index and the usual level of physical activity (International Physical Activity Questionnaire); and quality of life was assessed by the 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey Version 2. Results: Among the 253 patients included, 167 were younger elderly (between 61 and 79 years old), and 86 were older elderly (≥ 80 years old). During the sixth month of evaluation, the older elderlies presented a higher need for a caregiver (69.0% versus 49, 5%, p = 0.002). Functional capacity prior to intensive care unit admission and in the third month after discharge was lower in older elderlies than in younger ones (Barthel prior to the intensive care unit: 73.0 ± 30.0 versus 86.5 ± 22.6; p <0.001, Barthel in the third month: 63.5 ± 34.0 versus 71.5 ± 35.5, p = 0.03), as was the usual level of physical activity (International Physical Activity Questionnaire in the third month: active/very active 3.4% versus 18.3%, no physical activity 64.4% versus 39.7%, p < 0.001, and International Physical Activity Questionnaire in the sixth month: active/very active 5.8% versus 20.8%, no physical activity 69.2% versus 43.4%, p = 0.005). Older elderlies had lower muscle strength when assessed according to handgrip in both the dominant (14.5 ± 7.7 versus 19.9 ± 9.6, p = 0.008) and non-dominant limb (13.1 ± 6.7 versus 17.5 ± 9.1, p = 0.02). There were no differences in functional capacity loss or reported quality of life between the age groups. Conclusion: Although there were great functional capacity losses after discharge from the intensive care unit in both age groups, there was no difference in the magnitude of functional capacity loss between younger (60 to 79 years) and older elderly individuals (≥ 80 years old) during the first 6 months after discharge from the intensive care unit.