HealthDay News — Factors in women at midlife associated with clinically important declines in physical health and function later in life include body mass index (BMI), educational attainment, smoking, osteoarthritis, clinically significant depression, and cardiovascular disease, according to a study published online Jan. 10 in JAMA Network Open.

Daniel H. Solomon, M.D., M.P.H., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues examined the factors associated with clinically important 10-year declines in the physical component summary score (PCS) of the Short Form 36 among women during midlife. Data were included for 1,091 women.

The researchers found that at age 55 years, women had a median BMI of 27.0 kg/m2 and a median baseline PCS of 53.1. Between the ages of 55 and 65 years, the median change in PCS was −1.02; 206 women (18.9 percent) experienced declines of at least 8 points. Factors associated with clinically important decline included higher baseline PCS, greater BMI, less educational attainment, current smoking, osteoarthritis, clinically significant depressive symptoms, and cardiovascular disease (odds ratios, 1.08, 1.06, 1.87, 1.93, 1.46, 2.03, and 2.06, respectively) in multivariable models.


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“Our data are observational, thus not permitting strong inferences about targets for interventions,” the authors write. “If the variables we observed are found to be associated with physical health and functional declines in an external cohort, it may be worth constructing a risk score to identify women at high risk of clinically important decline, with the hope of identifying variables that could be mediated with intervention.”

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries.

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