Although previous studies showed that frail older adults are more susceptible to develop cardiovascular diseases, the underlying effect of frailty on heart rate dynamics is still unclear. The goal of the current study was to measure heart rate changes due to normal speed and rapid walking among non-frail and pre-frail/frail older adults, and to implement heart rate dynamic measures to identify frailty status.
Eighty-eight older adults (≥65 years) were recruited and stratified into frailty groups based on the five-component Fried frailty phenotype. While performing gait tests, heart rate was recorded using a wearable ECG and accelerometer sensors. Groups consisted of 27 non-frail (age = 78.70 ± 7.32) and 61 pre-frail/frail individuals (age = 81.00 ± 8.14). The parameters of interest included baseline heart rate measures (mean heart rate and heart rate variability), and heart rate dynamics due to walking (percentage change in heart rate and required time to reach the maximum heart rate).
Respectively for normal and rapid walking conditions, pre-frail/frail participants had 46% and 44% less increase in heart rate, and 49% and 27% slower occurrence of heart rate peak, when compared to non-frail older adults (p < 0.04, effect size = 0.71 ± 0.12). Measures of heart rate dynamics showed stronger associations with frailty status compared to baseline resting-state measures (sensitivity = 0.75 and specificity = 0.65 using heart rate dynamics measures, compared to sensitivity = 0.64 and specificity = 0.62 using baseline parameters).
These findings suggest that measures of heart rate dynamics in response to daily activities may provide meaningful markers for frailty screening.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.