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Frailty and the Burden of Concurrent and Incident Disability in Patients With Cirrhosis: A Prospective Cohort Study

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Frailty results from the chronic effects of malnutrition and muscle wasting in patients with cirrhosis. It is well-established that frailty is strongly associated with mortality in this population. However, little is known of its relationship with physical disability, a critical patient-centered outcome. Adults with cirrhosis underwent outpatient testing of frailty using the Liver Frailty Index (LFI) and disability using activities of daily living (ADL; range 0-6) and Instrumental ADL (IADL; range 0-8) scales at one center between 2012 and 2016. We used adjusted multilevel logistic mixed-effects regression to test the association between frailty and current disability (impairment with ≥1 ADL or IADL) and incident disability at 6 months among those without baseline disability. Of the 983 participants, 20% were robust, 32% were less robust, 33% were prefrail, and 15% were frail; 587 (60%) had at least 1 assessment. The percentage of participants with at least 1 baseline ADL or IADL impairment was 28% and 37%, respectively. In adjusted regression models, each point LFI increase was associated with a 3.3 and 4.6 higher odds of current difficulty with at least 1 ADL and IADL (P < 0.001 for each), respectively. Among participants without baseline disability, each point LFI increase was associated with a 2.6 and 1.7 higher odds of having difficulty with at least 1 ADL and IADL at 6 months, respectively. Conclusion: Frailty is strongly associated with concurrent and incident disability in patients with cirrhosis. In the clinic, the LFI can be used to identify those in greatest need for additional support/resources to maintain functional independence. In research settings, the LFI may help to identify an enriched population for clinical trials of interventions aimed at those most vulnerable to disability.

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