ACS: Timed Walking Predicts Post-Op Recovery in Elderly

Slow walking in elderly ups risk of postoperative complications, lengthens hospital stay

THURSDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- A simple timed walking test can be an effective predictor of postoperative adverse events in elderly patients undergoing cardiac and colorectal surgery, according to a study presented at the Annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, held from Oct. 23 to 27 in San Francisco.

Daniel Wu, M.D., from the Denver Veteran's Affairs Medical Center, and colleagues investigated whether a simple timed walking test was effective for predicting recovery from surgical procedures in 195 patients aged 65 years and older undergoing cardiac or colorectal surgery. Before surgery, all patients underwent the timed-up-and-go test, which involves standing from a chair, walking 10 feet, returning to the chair, and sitting. Participants were classified as fast (10 seconds or less), intermediate (between 11 and 14 seconds), and slow (15 seconds or more).

The investigators found that, from the slow group, 73 percent of those who underwent cardiac surgery and 69 percent of those who underwent colorectal surgery, were discharged to an institutional care facility. In contrast, only 17 and 5 percent, respectively, from the fast groups required the same postoperative care. Compared to the fast group, patients in the slow group spent two more days in the hospital after cardiac surgery, and eight more days after colorectal surgery. More than one postoperative complication was experienced by 13 and 20 percent of those in the fast group, and 37 and 56 percent of those in the slow group, for cardiac and colorectal surgeries, respectively.

"This timed-up-and-go test is a very sharp predictor of complications and mortality," Wu said in a statement.

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