Slowed Gait, Memory Problems May Predict Dementia in Healthy Adults

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A new pre-dementia condition is occurring with greater incidence in healthy, older adults that present with a slowed gait and cognitive complaints. The condition, called motoric cognitive risk syndrome, may be diagnosed by a primary care physician with a few simple screening tools.

In a study published in Neurology, Joe Verghese, MBBS, of the Department of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and colleagues, evaluated 3,128 adults with no symptoms of motoric cognitive risk syndrome (MCR) or dementia at baseline. The researchers hoped to identify risk factors for MCR.

During follow-up, 828 people met MCR criteria, with an overall age- and sex-adjusted incidence rate of 65.2/1,000 person-years (95% CI: 53.3-77.1) and a range of 50.6/1,000 person-years to 79.6/1,000 person-years. Older age but not sex contributed to incidence rate. Conditions including stroke, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, depression and sedentary behavior predicted risk of incident MCR. Obesity and sedentary behavior were both associated with a high risk of slow gait and cognitive complaint, both of which may be precursors of dementia.

"What we have found is that slowing gait combined with cognitive complaint has a greater predictive value in patients at risk for dementia than either feature alone,” Verghese told MedPage Today.

The researchers stressed that MCR could be detected with simple clinical evaluations, including asking a patient if they have memory problems and timing their walking speed. 

Old woman
Slowed Gait, Memory Problems May Predict Dementia in Healthy Adults

A higher incidence of a pre-dementia condition called motoric cognitive risk syndrome (MCR) was seen with advancing age in older, healthy adults, according to researchers.

Joe Verghese, MBBS, of the Department of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and colleagues examined incidence rates of MCR in 3,128 adults aged 60 years and older, MCR- and dementia-free at baseline, participating in 4 US-based cohort studies. In adults ages 60 and up, the overall age- and sex-adjusted incidence of MCR was 65.2/1,000 person-years (95% CI 53.3-77.1).

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