Perceived Fatigability, Fatigue, and Mortality in Mid-to-Late Life in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging

Francesca R. Marino, Xiaomeng Chen, Jennifer A. Deal, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Luigi Ferrucci, Jennifer A. Schrack, Amal A. Wanigatunga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction/Purpose: Fatigue is an established prognostic indicator of mortality risk. It remains unknown whether fatigability anchored to a physical task is a more sensitive prognostic indicator and whether sensitivity differs by prevalent chronic conditions. Methods: A total of 1076 physically well-functioning participants 50 yr or older in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging self-reported fatigue (unusual tiredness or low energy) and had perceived fatigability assessed after a standardized treadmill walk. All-cause mortality was ascertained by proxy contact and National Death Index linkage. Cox proportional hazards models estimated associations of perceived fatigability and fatigue with all-cause mortality, adjusting for demographic and clinical covariates. Interactions by chronic conditions were also examined. Results: Each 1 SD higher in perceived fatigability, unusual tiredness, or low energy was associated with a higher relative hazard of all-cause mortality after covariate adjustment (fatigability: hazard ratio (HR), 1.18 (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.03–1.36); unusual tiredness: HR, 1.25 (95% CI, 1.08–1.44); low energy: HR, 1.27 (95% CI, 1.10–1.46)). Models had similar discrimination (P > 0.14 for all). Perceived fatigability was associated with mortality risk among participants free of arthritis or osteoarthritis who otherwise appeared healthy (no arthritis: HR, 1.45 (95% CI, 1.15–1.84); arthritis: HR, 1.09 (95% CI, 0.92–1.30); P-interaction = 0.031). Unusual tiredness was associated with mortality among those with a history of diabetes (no diabetes: HR, 1.16 (95% CI, 0.97–1.38); diabetes: HR, 1.65 (95% CI, 1.22–2.23); P-interaction = 0.045) or pulmonary disease (no pulmonary disease: HR, 1.22 (95% CI, 1.05–1.43); pulmonary disease: HR, 2.15 (95% CI, 1.15–4.03); P-interaction = 0.034). Conclusions: Higher perceived fatigability and fatigue symptoms were similarly associated with higher all-cause mortality, but utility differed by chronic condition. Perceived fatigability might be useful for health screening and long-term mortality risk assessment for well-functioning adults. Alternatively, self-reported fatigue seems more disease-specific with regard to mortality risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-314
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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