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Dual Decline in Memory, Gait Speed Tied to Higher Dementia Risk

Authors say it is important to assess gait in dementia risk assessments

WEDNESDAY, June 8, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The combination of decline in both gait speed and memory has the strongest association with dementia risk in older adults, according to a study published online May 31 in JAMA Network Open.

Taya A. Collyer, Ph.D., from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues examined associations of dual decline in gait speed and cognition (i.e., global, memory, processing speed, and verbal fluency) with the risk for dementia. The analysis included data from 16,855 older adults in Australia and the United States who participated in a randomized clinical trial testing low-dose aspirin between 2010 and 2017 with gait speed measured at years 0, 2, 4, and 6.

The researchers found that compared with nondecliners, the risk for dementia was highest in the gait plus Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised decliners (HVLT-R; hazard ratio, 24.7), followed by the gait plus Modified Mini-Mental State examination (3MS; hazard ratio, 22.2), gait plus Controlled Oral Word Association Test for verbal fluency (hazard ratio, 4.7), and gait plus Symbol Digit Modalities (hazard ratio, 4.3) groups. Compared with older adults with either gait or cognitive decline alone for 3MS and HVLT-R, dual decliners had a higher risk for dementia.

“These findings support the inclusion of gait speed in dementia risk screening assessments,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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