Nutrition Index Helps Identify High-Risk Elderly Heart Patients

Researchers explored the connection between nutrition status and cardiovascular disease outcomes.


A “wealth of evidence” suggests that nutrition and immunologic status on admission is closely associated with the outcome of patients with cardiovascular disease—especially high-risk elderly patients, say researchers from Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital, Beijing. The researchers note that malnutrition is an independent factor influencing post myocardial infarction complications and mortality in geriatric patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). According to their study of 336 hospitalized patients with hypertension, the Controlling Nutritional Status (CONUT) score can help predict who is at highest risk.

Nutrition indexes are widely used. CONUT scores, which are calculated based on serum albumin concentration, total peripheral lymphocyte count, and total cholesterol concentration, have been found useful in a variety of areas, including cancer. The Geriatric Nutritional Risk Index (GNRI), although a relatively new index for nutrition assessment in the elderly, is the most-used tool to evaluate patients with chronic kidney disease, the researchers say. Both indexes are “widely applied” in evaluation of patients with tumors who are also undergoing dialysis. Some studies also have reported on GNRI as a prognostic factor in cardiovascular diseases.

The researchers conducted their study to assess the effect of nutrition status on survival in patients aged ≥ 80 years, with hypertension, measuring outcomes at 90 days postadmission. All patients had a history of CAD, 167 had type 2 diabetes, and 124 had anemia. Of the enrolled patients, 192 were admitted for respiratory tract infection, with a significantly high proportion of poor nutrition status. Five patients scored > 9 on the CONUT scale. A score of ≥ 5 indicated moderate to severe malnutrition.

During the 90-day follow-up, 27 patients died. No differences in systolic blood pressure were found. The surviving patients, however, showed increased body mass index, hemoglobin, and albumin levels, as well as lower diastolic blood pressure and fasting blood glucose. Surviving patients had improved GRNI scores and reduced CONUT scores, both of which indicated improved nutrition status. Respiratory tract infection, CONUT, and albumin were independent predictors of all-cause mortality.

However, only CONUT accurately predicted all-cause mortality among patients with hypertension during the 90-day follow-up. A CONUT score above 3.0 at admission predicted all-cause mortality with a sensitivity of 77.8% and specificity of 64.7%.


Sun X, Luo L, Zhao X, Ye P. BMJ Open. 2017;7(9):e015649.

doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-015649.

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