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Sex differences in the contribution of different physiological systems to physical function in older adults


Jones, S and Schultz, MG and Tillin, T and Park, C and Williams, S and Chaturvedi, N and Hughes, AD, Sex differences in the contribution of different physiological systems to physical function in older adults, GeroScience, 43, (1) pp. 443-455. ISSN 2509-2715 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright The Author(s) 2021

DOI: doi:10.1007/s11357-021-00328-y


Having the physical function to undertake activities of daily living (ADLs) is essential in order to maintain independence. The aim of this study is to investigate factors associated with physical function in older adults and determine if these associations differ in men versus women. In total, 726 participants (57% men; 737 years old) from a population-based cohort, the Southall and Brent Revisited (SABRE) study, completed questionnaires permitting a physical function score (PFS) to be calculated. Detailed phenotyping was performed including cardiovascular (echocardiography and macrovascular and microvascular functions), skeletal muscle (grip strength and oxidative capacity) and lung (pulmonary) function measurements. In a sub-group, maximal aerobic capacity was estimated from a sub-maximal exercise test. In women versus men, the association between grip strength and PFS was nearly 3 times stronger, and the association between microvascular dysfunction and PFS was over 5 times stronger (standardized β-coefficient (95% CI) 0.34 (0.22, 0.45) versus 0.11 (0.01,0.22) and -0.27 (-0.37, -0.17) versus -0.05 (-0.14, 0.04), respectively). In men, the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and PFS was 3 times greater than that in women (standardized β-coefficient (95% CI) 0.33 (0.22, 0.45) versus 0.10 (-0.04, 0.25). Cardiovascular, skeletal muscle and pulmonary factors all contribute to self-reported physical function, but the relative pattern of contribution differs by sex. Grip strength and microvascular function are most strongly associated with physical function in women while cardiorespiratory fitness is most strongly associated with physical function in men. This is relevant to the design of effective interventions that target maintenance of physical function in old age.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:cardiovascular, physical function, pulmonary, skeletal muscle
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Cardiovascular medicine and haematology
Research Field:Cardiology (incl. cardiovascular diseases)
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Health related to ageing
UTAS Author:Schultz, MG (Dr Martin Schultz)
ID Code:147067
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2021-10-12
Last Modified:2021-11-18

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