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Recruiting persons with dementia for clinical trials can be challenging. Building on a guide initially developed to assist primary-care-based memory clinics in their efforts to support research, a key stakeholder working group meeting was held to develop a standardized research recruitment process, with input from patients, care partners, researchers, and clinicians. Discussions in this half-day facilitated meeting focused on the wishes and needs of patients and care partners, policy and procedures for researchers, information provided to patients, and considerations for memory clinics. Patients and care partners valued the opportunity to contribute to science and provided important insights on how to best facilitate recruitment. Discussions regarding proposed processes and procedures for research recruitment highlighted the need for a new, patient-driven approach. Accordingly, a key stakeholder co-designed “Memory Clinic Research Match” program was developed that has the potential to overcome existing barriers and to increase recruitment for dementia-related research.
To describe the neuroimaging and other methods for assessing vascular contributions to neurodegeneration in the Comprehensive Assessment of Neurodegeneration and Dementia (COMPASS-ND) study, a Canadian multi-center, prospective longitudinal cohort study, including reliability and feasibility in the first 200 participants.
COMPASS-ND includes persons with Alzheimer’s disease (AD; n = 150), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Lewy body dementias (LBDs) (200), mixed dementia (200), mild cognitive impairment (MCI; 400), subcortical ischemic vascular MCI (V-MCI; 200), subjective cognitive impairment (SCI; 300), and cognitively intact elderly controls (660). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was acquired according to the validated Canadian Dementia Imaging Protocol and visually reviewed by either of two experienced readers blinded to clinical characteristics. Other relevant assessments include history of vascular disease and risk factors, blood pressure, height and weight, cholesterol, glucose, and hemoglobin A1c.
Analyzable data were obtained in 197/200 of whom 18 of whom were clinically diagnosed with V-MCI or mixed dementia. The overall prevalence of infarcts was 24.9%, microbleeds was 24.6%, and high white matter hyperintensity (WMH) was 31.0%. MRI evidence of a potential vascular contribution to neurodegeneration was seen in 12.9%–40.0% of participants clinically diagnosed with another condition such as AD. Inter-rater reliability was good to excellent.
COMPASS-ND will be a useful platform to study vascular brain injury and its association with risk factors, biomarkers, and cognitive and functional decline across multiple age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Initial findings show that MRI-defined vascular brain injury is common in all cognitive syndromes and is under-recognized clinically.
The Comprehensive Assessment of Neurodegeneration and Dementia (COMPASS-ND) cohort study of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) is a national initiative to catalyze research on dementia, set up to support the research agendas of CCNA teams. This cross-country longitudinal cohort of 2310 deeply phenotyped subjects with various forms of dementia and mild memory loss or concerns, along with cognitively intact elderly subjects, will test hypotheses generated by these teams.
The COMPASS-ND protocol, initial grant proposal for funding, fifth semi-annual CCNA Progress Report submitted to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research December 2017, and other documents supplemented by modifications made and lessons learned after implementation were used by the authors to create the description of the study provided here.
The CCNA COMPASS-ND cohort includes participants from across Canada with various cognitive conditions associated with or at risk of neurodegenerative diseases. They will undergo a wide range of experimental, clinical, imaging, and genetic investigation to specifically address the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of these conditions in the aging population. Data derived from clinical and cognitive assessments, biospecimens, brain imaging, genetics, and brain donations will be used to test hypotheses generated by CCNA research teams and other Canadian researchers. The study is the most comprehensive and ambitious Canadian study of dementia. Initial data posting occurred in 2018, with the full cohort to be accrued by 2020.
Availability of data from the COMPASS-ND study will provide a major stimulus for dementia research in Canada in the coming years.
The goal of this study was to quantify the impact of the suggested education correction on the sensitivity and specificity of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA).
Twenty-five outpatients with dementia and 39 with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) underwent a diagnostic evaluation, which included the MoCA. Thirty-seven healthy controls also completed the MoCA and psychiatric, medical, neurological, functional, and cognitive difficulties were ruled out.
For the total MoCA score, unadjusted for education, a cut-off score of 26 yielded the best balance between sensitivity and specificity (80% and 89% respectively) in identifying cognitive impairment (people with either dementia or aMCI, versus controls). When applying the education correction, sensitivity decreased from 80% to 69% for a small specificity increase (89% to 92%). The cut-off score yielding the best balance between sensitivity and specificity for the education adjusted MoCA score fell to 25 (61% and 97%, respectively).
Adjusting the MoCA total score for education had a detrimental effect on sensitivity with only a slight increase in specificity. Clinically, this loss in sensitivity can lead to an increased number of false negatives, as education level does not always correlate to premorbid intellectual function. Clinical judgment about premorbid status should guide interpretation. However, as this effect may be cohortspecific, age and education corrected norms and cut-offs should be developed to help guide MoCA interpretation.
The implementation in Ontario of 15 primary-care–based interprofessional memory clinics represented a unique model of team-based case management aimed at increasing capacity for dementia care at the primary-care level. Each clinic tracked referrals; in a subset of clinics, charts were audited by geriatricians, clinic members were interviewed, and patients, caregivers, and referring physicians completed satisfaction surveys. Across all clinics, 582 patients were assessed, and 8.9 per cent were referred to a specialist. Patients and caregivers were very satisfied with the care received, as were referring family physicians, who reported increased capacity to manage dementia. Geriatricians’ chart audits revealed a high level of agreement with diagnosis and management. This study demonstrated acceptability, feasibility, and preliminary effectiveness of the primary-care memory clinic model. Led by specially trained family physicians, it provided timely access to high-quality collaborative dementia care, impacting health service utilization by more-efficient use of scarce geriatric specialist resources.
Heterogeneity is observed in the patterns of cognition in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Such heterogeneity might suggest the involvement of different etiological pathways or different host responses to pathology. A total of 627 subjects with mild/moderate AD underwent cognitive assessment with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Dementia Rating Scale-2 (DRS-2). Latent class analysis (LCA) was performed on cognition subscale data to identify and characterize cognitive subgroups. Clinical, demographic, and genetic factors were explored for association with class membership. LCA suggested the existence of four subgroups; one group with mild and another with severe global impairment across the cognitive domains, one group with primary impairments in attention and construction, and another group with primary deficits in memory and orientation. Education, disease duration, age, Apolipoprotein E-ε4 (APOE ε4) status, gender, presence of grasp reflex, white matter changes, and early or prominent visuospatial impairment were all associated with class membership. Our results support the existence of heterogeneity in patterns of cognitive impairment in AD. Our observation of classes characterized by predominant deficits in attention/construction and memory respectively deserves further exploration as does the association between membership in the attention/construction class and APOE ε4 negative status. (JINS, 2010, 16, 233–243.)
Purpose: To assess the prevalence and strength of association of risk factors for falling in Canadian veterans of World War II and Korea and their caregivers.
Methods: Questionnaires were sent to addresses of 3,000 Canadian veterans (response rate = 70%). Risk factors for falls and the frequency of falls and injurious falls in the past 12 months were collected.
Results: Veterans had more risk factors than did caregivers, and more had fallen in the past year (39.8% vs. 29.7%). Risk factors in the logistic model for veterans included lower extremity disability (odds ratio = 1.98, 95% confidence interval 1.5–2.6); lower extremity weakness (OR 1.75, 95% CI 1.3–2.3); worse memory than peers (OR 1.67, 95% CI 1.1–2.5); one or more visits to the family doctor in the past month (OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.2–2.0); and worse memory than 5 years ago (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.0–1.8).
Conclusions: Veterans appear more frail and prone to falling than their caregivers.
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