Identifying a Relationship between Physical Frailty and Heart Failure Symptoms

Quin E. Denfeld, Kerri Winters-Stone, James Mudd, Shirin O. Hiatt, Christopher Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Heart failure (HF) is a complex clinical syndrome associated with significant symptom burden; however, our understanding of the relationship between symptoms and physical frailty in HF is limited. Objective: The aim of this study was to quantify associations between symptoms and physical frailty in adults with HF. Methods: A sample of adults with symptomatic HF were enrolled in a cross-sectional study. Physical symptoms were measured with the HF Somatic Perception Scale-Dyspnea subscale, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, and the Brief Pain Inventory short form. Affective symptoms were measured with the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and the Brief Symptom Inventory-Anxiety scale. Physical frailty was assessed according to the Frailty Phenotype Criteria: shrinking, weakness, slowness, physical exhaustion, and low physical activity. Comparative statistics and generalized linear modeling were used to quantify associations between symptoms and physical frailty, controlling for Seattle HF Model projected 1-year survival. Results: The mean age of the sample (n = 49) was 57.4 ± 9.7 years, 67% were male, 92% had New York Heart Association class III/IV HF, and 67% had nonischemic HF. Physically frail participants had more than twice the level of dyspnea (P <.001), 75% worse wake disturbances (P <.001), and 76% worse depressive symptoms (P =.003) compared with those who were not physically frail. There were no differences in pain or anxiety. Conclusions: Physically frail adults with HF have considerably worse dyspnea, wake disturbances, and depression. Targeting physical frailty may help identify and improve physical and affective symptoms in HF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1-E7
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • heart failure
  • physical frailty
  • symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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