The prediction of long-term mortality following acute illness can be unreliable for older patients, inhibiting the delivery of targeted clinical interventions. The difficulty plausibly arises from the complex, multifactorial nature of the underlying biology in this population, which flexible, multimodal models based on machine learning may overcome. Here, we test this hypothesis by quantifying the comparative predictive fidelity of such models in a large consecutive sample of older patients acutely admitted to hospital and characterise their biological support.
A set of 804 admission episodes involving 616 unique patients with a mean age of 84.5 years consecutively admitted to the Acute Geriatric service at University College Hospital were identified, in whom clinical diagnoses, blood tests, cognitive status, computed tomography of the head, and mortality within 600 days after admission were available. We trained and evaluated out-of-sample an array of extreme gradient boosted trees-based predictive models of incrementally greater numbers of investigational modalities and modelled features. Both linear and non-linear associations with investigational features were quantified.
Predictive models of mortality showed progressively increasing fidelity with greater numbers of modelled modalities and dimensions. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve rose from 0.67 (sd = 0.078) for age and sex to 0.874 (sd = 0.046) for the most comprehensive model. Extracranial bone and soft tissue features contributed more than intracranial features towards long-term mortality prediction. The anterior cingulate and angular gyri, and serum albumin, were the greatest intracranial and biochemical model contributors respectively.
High-dimensional, multimodal predictive models of mortality based on routine clinical data offer higher predictive fidelity than simpler models, facilitating individual level prognostication and interventional targeting. The joint contributions of both extracranial and intracranial features highlight the potential importance of optimising somatic as well as neural functions in healthy ageing. Our findings suggest a promising path towards a high-fidelity, multimodal index of frailty.

© 2023. The Author(s).