Self-Reported Walking Difficulty Predicts Late-Life Mortality in Finnish War Veterans: Results from the Veteran 1992 Project Survey

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To determine risk factors and their combinations that predict late-life mortality.

DESIGN:

Postal questionnaire.

SETTING:

Veteran 1992 Project Survey.

PARTICIPANTS:

Finnish Second World War veterans living in Finland (177,989 men, 48,745 women), with a participation rate of 93%.

MEASUREMENTS:

Main outcomes were total, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and accident and violence (AAV) mortality. Absolute 10-year mortality risks for total mortality with combinations of different risk factors were calculated.

RESULTS:

The strongest predictor of total mortality was self-reported walking difficulty (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.74, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.71–1.76 in men without disability, HR = 1.62, 95% CI = 1.58–1.67 in men with disability, HR = 1.61, 95% CI = 1.57–1.65 in women). The highest HRs of CVD mortality were for self-reported walking difficulty among men without disability (HR = 1.98, 95% CI = 1.95–2.02) and among men with disability (HR = 1.88, 95% CI = 1.82–1.94). In women, the highest HR for CVD mortality was for multimorbidity (HR = 1.87, 95% CI = 1.79–1.96). For AAV mortality, the highest HRs were for falls in men and age in women. A combination of walking difficulty and multimorbidity had the highest absolute 10-year mortality risk for total mortality (0.730 in men without disability, 0.729 in men with disability, 0.487 in women).

CONCLUSION:

Self-reported walking difficulty was the most important predictor of total mortality in all veteran groups and for CVD mortality in men. The study demonstrates the importance of self-reported walking difficulty and multimorbidity as markers of high mortality risk in Finnish war veterans.

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