BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to determine whether frailty is associated with increased admission and mortality risk in the setting of heart failure. METHODS AND RESULTS: This retrospective cohort analysis included patients treated within the Veterans Affairs Health System who had International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) codes for heart failure on 2 or more dates over a 2-year period. The clinical variables identifiable in claims data, such as demographic variables and markers of physical and cognitive dysfunction, were used to identify patients meeting the frailty phenotype. Of 388 785 extracted patients with coding of heart failure between 2015 and 2018, 163 085 patients (41.9%) with ejection fraction (EF) measurement were included in the present analysis (38.3% with reduced EF and 61.7% with preserved EF). There were 16 660 patients (10.2%) who were identified as frail (9.1% in heart failure with reduced EF and 10.9% in heart failure with preserved EF). Frail patients were older, more often depressed, and were likely to have been admitted in the previous year. One-year all-cause mortality rate was 9.7% and 28.1%, and admission rate was 58.1% and 79.5% for nonfrail and frail patients, respectively. Frailty was associated with mortality and admission risk compared with the nonfrail group (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.71; 95% CI, 1.65–1.77 for mortality; adjusted OR, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.24–1.34 for admission) independent of EF. CONCLUSIONS: Frailty based on diagnostic coding was associated with particularly higher risk of mortality despite adjustment for known clinical variables. Our findings underscore the importance of nontraditional parameters in the prognostic assessment.
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