Introduction: Recent times have witnessed almost half, or sometimes more cardiac surgical procedures are performed in patients above 75 years of age. Traditionally, the EuroSCORE II and STS risk scoring systems have been widely used across the globe. Extensive reviews have shown that EuroSCORE II probably overestimates the perioperative risk at lower score levels while the STS score tends to underestimate the risk.
Frailty is a broad term that encircles aspects of nutrition, lack of agility, inactivity, lack of strength and wasting; and is seen in 25-50% of elderly patients. It has been defined as a geriatric syndrome reflecting a state of reduced physiological reserve and increased vulnerability to poor resolution of homeostasis after a stressor event. Conversely, pre-frailty, which is potentially reversible, is associated with higher risk of older adults developing cardiovascular disease.
Frailty assessment includes a variety of physical and cognitive tests, functional assessments and evaluating nutritional status. Literature has highlighted what is referred to as the ‘obesity paradox’, meaning obese patients with heart failure fair better than leaner patients, possibly because they have more metabolic reserve and also because weight loss in itself is a risk factor for frailty.
Patient Selection: To comprehensively assess a patient, factors that describe the biological status of the patient should be incorporated. There are various methods of assessment and modified Fried criteria or comprehensive assessment of frailty are a couple of systems commonly used.
Conclusion: Systematic reviews have shown that frail patients have higher chance of mortality, major adverse cardiac and cerebrovascular events and functional decline after cardiac surgery. A holistic assessment not only categorises patients into the apt risk category and hence match goals and treatments; but also, will pick up patients with pre-frailty who will benefit from multidisciplinary intervention and be better prepared for the intervention.