Slow Gait Contributes to Cognitive Decline

A common symptom in older adults, motoric cognitive risk syndrome (MCR) is a newly developed diagnosis characterized by cognitive symptoms and slow gait in patients without dementia, is now an early risk factor for cognitive decline, a new study has found. The researchers found that 9.7% of older adults around the world had MCR, with the highest prevalence in adults older than 75. Those with MCR are twice as likely as those without this diagnosis to develop dementia.



“There are other predementia syndromes that have been identified, but almost all of them rely on cognitive testing or biomarkers or doing imaging studies, and these procedures may not be practical in many clinical settings around the world that have few resources,” said lead study author Joe Verghese, MBBS, professor, Department of Neurology and Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.



MCR is easily diagnosed with simple questions about memory and using a stop watch to time walking over a fixed distance to measure gait speed. For the analysis, researchers used data from 26,802 older adults, with a mean age of 71.6 years, from 22 cohorts in 17 countries. The 9.7% of participants who had MCR preformed worse on all cognitive tests than those without MCR. During four follow-up studies, researchers determined that MCR predicted incident cognitive impairment in all cohorts with adjusted hazard ratios ranging from 1.48 to 2.74. In 2 cohorts, MCR was associated with increased risk for Alzheimer disease (AD) dementia.



Dr. Verghese points out that identifying MCR has numerous benefits and identifies a group of older adults not encompassed by other predementia syndromes, “so you’re enlarging the pool of people, or capturing the people who might not be identified otherwise.” The authors noted that the MCR approach “can help streamline high-risk individuals for further investigation, especially in resources-poor settings.”






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