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Journal: Journal of the American Medical Directors Association


OBJECTIVE: The evaluation of visual acuity (VA) in cognitively impaired older individuals may be limited by a reduced ability to cooperate or communicate. The objective of this research was to assess VA in older institutionalized individuals with cognitive impairment, including severe dementia, using various acuity charts. DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS, AND MEASUREMENTS: Three groups of 30 participants each were recruited: (1) young participants; (2) older participants with no history of cognitive or communication disorders; and (3) older participants with cognitive impairment, including severe dementia, residing in long term care facilities. The Mini-Mental State Examination was performed for each institutionalized subject. VA was measured using 6 validated charts [Snellen, Teller cards, Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS)-letters, -numbers, -Patty Pics, -Tumbling Es] presented in random order. Nonparametric tests were used to compare VA scores between charts, after Bonferroni-Holm corrections for multiple comparisons. RESULTS: Participants in groups 1 and 2 responded to all charts. A large proportion of participants with dementia responded to all charts (n = 19), whereas only one did not respond to any chart. In group 3, VA charts with the lowest scores were the Teller cards (20/65) and Patty Pics (20/62), regardless of the level of dementia, whereas the highest VA scores were obtained with the Snellen (20/35) and ETDRS-letter (20/36) charts. Across all groups, the ETDRS-letter chart was the only one whose scores did not differ from those obtained with the standard Snellen chart. CONCLUSIONS: Visual acuity can be measured, and should at least be attempted, in older cognitively impaired individuals having a reduced ability to communicate.

Concepts: Dementia, Visual acuity, Ophthalmology, Diabetic retinopathy, Psychiatry, Snellen chart, Abbreviated mental test score, Charts


BACKGROUND: Multimorbidity is a new concept encompassing all the medical conditions of an individual patient. The concept links into the European definition of family medicine and its core competencies. However, the definition of multimorbidity and its subsequent operationalization are still unclear. The European General Practice Research Network wanted to produce a comprehensive definition of multimorbidity. METHOD: Systematic review of literature involving eight European General Practice Research Network national teams. The databases searched were PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane (1990-2010). Only articles containing descriptions of multimorbidity criteria were selected for inclusion. The multinational team undertook a methodic data extraction, according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. RESULTS: The team identified 416 documents, selected 68 abstracts, included 54 articles, and found 132 definitions with 1631 different criteria. These criteria were aggregated into 11 themes that led to the following definition: Multimorbidity is defined as any combination of chronic disease with at least one other disease (acute or chronic) or biopsychosocial factor (associated or not) or somatic risk factor. Any biopsychosocial factor, any risk factor, the social network, the burden of diseases, the health care consumption, and the patient’s coping strategies may function as modifiers (of the effects of multimorbidity). Multimorbidity may modify the health outcomes and lead to an increased disability or a decreased quality of life or frailty. CONCLUSION: This study has produced a comprehensive definition of multimorbidity. The resulting improvements in the management of multimorbidity, and its usefulness in long term care and in family medicine, will have to be assessed in future studies.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Epidemiology, Disease, Medical terms, Systematic review, Chronic, Definition


We examined whether sarcopenia is predictive of incident fractures among older men, whether the inclusion of sarcopenia in models adds any incremental value to bone mineral density (BMD), and whether sarcopenia is associated with a higher risk of fractures in elderly with osteoporosis.

Concepts: Osteoporosis, Bone, Bone fracture, Fracture, Bone density, Density, Sociology, Fracture mechanics


Atrial fibrillation is a common condition in the elderly, and the incidence of thromboembolic events secondary to atrial fibrillation increases with age. Antithrombotic therapy effectively prevents stroke and systemic embolism but also exposes patients to the risk of bleeding. Because the risk of bleeding also increases with age, clinicians tend to withhold anticoagulation in the elderly. Anticoagulation is particularly complex in the frail elderly patient, who presents additional risk factors affecting both efficacy and safety of thromboembolic prevention. The main clinical trials rarely include frail elderly patients and, consequently, the guidelines do not provide guidance for their management. In the absence of clear indications for this class of patients, we identified some areas that should be taken into account both before starting and when discontinuing anticoagulation: comorbidities, polypharmacotherapy, adherence, cognitive impairment, mobility and monitoring barriers, nutritional status and swallowing disorders, risk of falls, and reduced life expectancy. We also suggest a multidimensional algorithm covering both a standard ischemic and bleeding risk assessment and an additional anticoagulation-focused frailty assessment. This is of particular relevance given the recent introduction of the oral direct inhibitors, as they are likely to widen the treatment options for the frail elderly. Depending on which aspect of frailty is present, anticoagulation can now be tailored accordingly.

Concepts: Risk, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Thrombosis, Gerontology, Risk management, Risk assessment, Embolism


Sarcopenia has been defined as age-related loss of muscle mass and function. The aim of this randomized controlled trial was to examine the effects of a 10-week instructor-led resistance training program on functional strength and body composition in men and women aged 70 years with pre-sarcopenia.


To test the effects of individual, nonfacilitated sessions with PARO (version 9), when compared against a look-alike plush toy and usual care, on the emotional and behavioral symptoms of dementia for people living in long-term care facilities.

Concepts: Psychology


It is well established that low muscle mass affects physical performance in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We hypothesize that combined low muscle mass and abdominal obesity may also adversely influence the cardiometabolic risk profile in COPD, even in those with normal weight. The cardiometabolic risk profile and the responsiveness to 4 months high-intensity exercise training was assessed in normal-weight patients with COPD with low muscle mass stratified by abdominal obesity.

Concepts: Cancer, Asthma, Pneumonia, Obesity, Muscle, Physical exercise, Adipose tissue, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


The relationship between health care expenditures and health care outcomes, such as life expectancy and mortality, is complex. Research outcomes show different and contradictory results on this relationship. How and why health care expenditures affect health outcomes is not clear. A causal link between the two is not proven. Without such knowledge, effects of increase/decrease in health care expenses on health outcomes may be overestimated/underestimated. This study analyzes the relationship between life expectancy at birth and expenditures on health care, taking into account expenditures of social production and education, as well as the quantity and quality of health care provisions and lifestyles.

Concepts: Health care, Mortality rate, Demography, Life expectancy, Personal life


The prevalence of malnutrition ranges up to 50% among patients in hospitals worldwide, and disease-related malnutrition is all too common in long-term and other health care settings as well. Regrettably, the numbers have not improved over the past decade. The consequences of malnutrition are serious, including increased complications (pressure ulcers, infections, falls), longer hospital stays, more frequent readmissions, increased costs of care, and higher risk of mortality. Yet disease-related malnutrition still goes unrecognized and undertreated. To help improve nutrition care around the world, the feedM.E. (Medical Education) Global Study Group, including members from Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America, defines a Nutrition Care Pathway that is simple and can be tailored for use in varied health care settings. The Pathway recommends screen, intervene, and supervene: screen patients' nutrition status on admission or initiation of care, intervene promptly when needed, and supervene or follow-up routinely with adjustment and reinforcement of nutrition care plans. This article is a call-to-action for health caregivers worldwide to increase attention to nutrition care.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Public health, Health, Nutrition, Hospital, Middle East, Asia


Skeletal muscle is recognized as vital to physical movement, posture, and breathing. In a less known but critically important role, muscle influences energy and protein metabolism throughout the body. Muscle is a primary site for glucose uptake and storage, and it is also a reservoir of amino acids stored as protein. Amino acids are released when supplies are needed elsewhere in the body. These conditions occur with acute and chronic diseases, which decrease dietary intake while increasing metabolic needs. Such metabolic shifts lead to the muscle loss associated with sarcopenia and cachexia, resulting in a variety of adverse health and economic consequences. With loss of skeletal muscle, protein and energy availability is lowered throughout the body. Muscle loss is associated with delayed recovery from illness, slowed wound healing, reduced resting metabolic rate, physical disability, poorer quality of life, and higher health care costs. These adverse effects can be combatted with exercise and nutrition. Studies suggest dietary protein and leucine or its metabolite β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate (HMB) can improve muscle function, in turn improving functional performance. Considerable evidence shows that use of high-protein oral nutritional supplements (ONS) can help maintain and rebuild muscle mass and strength. We review muscle structure, function, and role in energy and protein balance. We discuss how disease- and age-related malnutrition hamper muscle accretion, ultimately causing whole-body deterioration. Finally, we describe how specialized nutrition and exercise can restore muscle mass, strength, and function, and ultimately reverse the negative health and economic outcomes associated with muscle loss.

Concepts: Protein, Medicine, Amino acid, Metabolism, Nutrition, Energy, Muscle, Glycogen