The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences

Prognostic implications of microvascular and macrovascular abnormalities in older adults: cardiovascular health study.

PMID 24864308


Microvascular and macrovascular abnormalities are frequently found on noninvasive tests performed in older adults. Their prognostic implications on disability and life expectancy have not been collectively assessed. This prospective study included 2,452 adults (mean age: 79.5 years) with available measures of microvascular (brain, retina, kidney) and macrovascular abnormalities (brain, carotid, coronary, peripheral artery) in the Cardiovascular Health Study. The burden of microvascular and macrovascular abnormalities was examined in relation to total, activity-of-daily-living disability-free, and severe disability-free life expectancies in the next 10 years (1999-2009). At 75 years, individuals with low burden of both abnormalities lived, on average, 8.71 years (95% confidence interval: 8.29, 9.12) of which 7.67 years (7.16, 8.17) were without disability. In comparison, individuals with high burden of both abnormalities had shortest total life expectancy (6.95 years [6.52, 7.37]; p < .001) and disability-free life expectancy (5.60 years [5.10, 6.11]; p < .001). Although total life expectancy was similarly reduced for those with high burden of either type of abnormalities (microvascular: 7.96 years [7.50, 8.42] vs macrovascular: 8.25 years [7.80, 8.70]; p = .10), microvascular abnormalities seemed to have larger impact than macrovascular abnormalities on disability-free life expectancy (6.45 years [5.90, 6.99] vs 6.96 years [6.43, 7.48]; p = .016). These results were consistent for severe disability-free life expectancy and in individuals without clinical cardiovascular disease. Considering both microvascular and macrovascular abnormalities from multiple noninvasive tests may provide additional prognostic information on how older adults spend their remaining life. Optimal clinical use of this information remains to be determined.