Subclinical thyroid dysfunction and frailty among older men

Vanessa S. Virgini, Nicolas Rodondi, Peggy M. Cawthon, Stephanie Litwack Harrison, Andrew R. Hoffman, Eric S. Orwoll, Kristine E. Ensrud, Douglas C. Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Context: Both subclinical thyroid dysfunction and frailty are common among older individuals, but data on the relationship between these 2 conditions are conflicting. Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the cross-sectional and prospective associations between subclinical thyroid dysfunction and frailty and the 5 frailty subdomains (sarcopenia, weakness, slowness, exhaustion, and low activity). Setting and Design: The Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study is a prospective cohort study. Participants: Men older than 65 years (n = 1455) were classified into 3 groups of thyroid status: subclinical hyperthyroidism (n = 26, 1.8%), subclinical hypothyroidism (n = 102, 7.0%), and euthyroidism (n = 1327, 91.2%). MainOutcomeMeasures: Frailty was defined using a slightly modified Cardiovascular Health Study Index: men with 3 or more criteria were considered frail, men with 1 to 2 criteria were considered intermediately frail, and men with no criteria were considered robust. We assessed the crosssectional relationship between baseline thyroid function and the 3 categories of frailty status (robust/intermediate/frail) as well as the prospective association between baseline thyroid function and subsequent frailty status and mortality after a 5-year follow-up. Results: At baseline, compared with euthyroid participants,menwith subclinical hyperthyroidism had an increased likelihood of greater frailty status (adjusted odds ratio, 2.48; 95% confidence interval, 1.15-5.34), particularly among men aged <74 years at baseline (odds ratio for frailty, 3.63; 95% confidence interval, 1.21-10.88). After 5 years of follow-up, baseline subclinical hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism were not consistently associated with overall frailty status or frailty components. Conclusion: Among community-dwelling older men, subclinical hyperthyroidism, but not subclinical hypothyroidism, is associated with increased odds of prevalent but not incident frailty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4524-4532
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2015

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Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2015 by the Endocrine Society.


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