Nurse with face mask helping senior woman to walk around the nursing home with walker.

Frailty is a key factor in 30-day hospital readmissions and death for older Medicare recipients with heart problems and pneumonia, according to a nationwide cohort study.

Investigators examined more than 780,000 medical records. They found that seniors over age 65 with high frailty scores and acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia were more at risk for a quick return to the hospital or of dying within 30 days of hospitalization than their peers with low frailty scores.

Frail adults who’d been hospitalized for heart attack, for instance, had three times the relative risk of returning to the hospital. And there were similar, significant associations with frailty in heart failure and pneumonia participants, reported Robert Yeh, M.D., Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, and colleagues.

The researchers concluded that taking frailty into account may improve outcome predictions for elderly adults with these conditions. Study subjects were Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries 65 years and older. Researchers followed subjects for 11 months in 2016. Frailty was determined using a claims-based measurement.

The study was published in JAMA Cardiology.