OBJECTIVE: This review investigates the relationship between leg muscle power and the chronic conditions of osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease among older adults. Current literature assessing the impact of chronic disease on leg power has not yet been comprehensively characterized. Importantly, individuals with these conditions have shown improved leg power with training.
METHODS: A search was performed using PubMed to identify original studies published in English from January 1998 to August 2013. Leg power studies, among older adults ≥ 50 years of age, which assessed associations with osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus, and/or cardiovascular disease were selected. Studies concerning post-surgery rehabilitation, case studies, and articles that did not measure primary results were excluded.
RESULTS: Sixteen studies met inclusion criteria, addressing osteoarthritis (n=5), diabetes mellitus (n=5), and cardiovascular disease (n=6). Studies generally supported associations of lower leg power among older adults with chronic disease, although small sample sizes, cross-sectional data, homogenous populations, varied disease definitions, and inconsistent leg power methods limited conclusions.
CONCLUSIONS: Studies suggest that osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease are associated with lower leg power compared to older adults without these conditions. These studies are limited, however, by the heterogeneity in study populations and a lack of standardized measurements of leg power. Future larger studies of more diverse older adults with well-defined chronic disease using standard measures of leg power and interventions to improve leg power in these older adults with chronic disease are needed.