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In a background of interest in staging models in psychiatry, we tested the validity of a simple staging model of cognitive impairment to predict incident dementia.
A large community sample of adults aged ≥55 years (N = 4803) was assessed in the baseline of a longitudinal, four-wave epidemiological enquiry. A two-phase assessment was implemented in each wave, and the instruments used included the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE); the History and Aetiology Schedule and the Geriatric Mental State-AGECAT. For the standardised degree of cognitive impairment Perneczky et al's MMSE criteria were applied. A panel of psychiatrists diagnosed cases of dementia according to DSM-IV criteria, and cases and sub-cases of dementia were excluded for the follow-up waves. Competing risk regression models, adjusted by potential confounders, were used to test the hypothesised association between MMSE levels and dementia risk.
Out of the 4057 participants followed up, 607 (14.9%) were classified as ‘normal’ (no cognitive impairment), 2672 (65.8%) as ‘questionable’ cognitive impairment, 732 (18.0%) had ‘mild’ cognitive impairment, 38 (0.9%) had ‘moderate’ cognitive impairment and eight (0.2%) had ‘severe’ impairment.
Cognitive impairment was associated with risk of dementia, the risk increasing in parallel with the level of impairment (hazard ratio: 2.72, 4.78 and 8.38 in the ‘questionable’, ‘mild’ and ‘moderate’ level of cognitive impairment, respectively).
The documented gradient of increased risk of dementia associated with the severity level of cognitive impairment supports the validity of the simple staging model based on the MMSE assessment.
To test the hypothesis that cognitive impairment in older adults is associated with all-cause mortality risk and the risk increases when the degree of cognitive impairment augments; and then, if this association is confirmed, to report the population-attributable fraction (PAF) of mortality due to cognitive impairment.
A representative random community sample of individuals aged over 55 was interviewed, and 4557 subjects remaining alive at the end of the first year of follow-up were included in the analysis. Instruments used in the assessment included the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE), the History and Aetiology Schedule (HAS) and the Geriatric Mental State (GMS)-AGECAT. For the standardised degree of cognitive impairment Perneczky et al's MMSE criteria were applied. Mortality information was obtained from the official population registry. Multivariate Cox proportional hazard models were used to test the association between MMSE degrees of cognitive impairment and mortality risk. We also estimated the PAF of mortality due to specific MMSE stages.
Cognitive impairment was associated with mortality risk, the risk increasing in parallel with the degree of cognitive impairment (Hazard ratio, HR: 1.18 in the ‘mild’ degree of impairment; HR: 1.29 in the ‘moderate’ degree; and HR: 2.08 in the ‘severe’ degree). The PAF of mortality due to severe cognitive impairment was 3.49%.
A gradient of increased mortality-risk associated with severity of cognitive impairment was observed. The results support the claim that routine assessment of cognitive function in older adults should be considered in clinical practice.
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