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Although the prevalence of malnutrition is relatively low among elderly people, the risk increases significantly among inpatients and even more in those with mental deterioration.
To evaluate the possible association between the severity of depressive symptoms, the nutritional status and the cognitive decline in a sample of geriatric inpatients.
Fifty-one geriatric inpatients completed the following tests:
– Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D), to assess the severity of depressive symptoms;
– Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA), as a nutrition screening and assessment tool;
– Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), to assess the cognitive impairment.
There is a negative proportional relationship between HAM-D and MMSE scores (P = 0.001) and between HAM-D and MNA scores (P = 0.023). Depressed patients found to have a greater cognitive impairment and a worse nutritional status. Considering a HAM-D cut-off point of 14, distinguishing mild than moderate depression, it shows a significant correlation with the MNA scores (P = 0.008). Patients with HAM-D scores ≥ 14 have an average MNA score of 19.8, while patients with HAM-D scores < 14 have an MNA average score of 23.6. Euthymic or mildly depressed patients are not at risk of malnutrition, while those with moderate or severe depression have an increased risk of malnutrition.
Our study shows significant correlations between the severity of depressive symptoms and the risk of malnutrition or cognitive impairment. A mild depression state does not seem to be associated with an increased risk of malnutrition.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
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