Current definitions for the preclinical phase of dementia focus predominantly on cognitive measures, with particular emphasis on memory and the prediction of Alzheimer's disease. Incorporation of non-cognitive, clinical markers into preclinical definitions may improve their predictive power. The Sydney Older Persons Study examined 6-year outcomes of 630 community-dwelling participants aged 75 or over at recruitment. At baseline, participants were defined as demented, cognitively intact or having a syndrome possibly representing the preclinical phase of Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, an extrapyramidal dementia or various combinations of the three. Those with cognitive impairment in combination with gait and motor slowing were the most likely to dement over the 6-year period (OR 5.6; 95% CI 2.5-12.6). This group was also the most likely to die (OR 3.3; 95% CI 1.6-6.9). White matter indices on MRI scanning were not consistently correlated with gait abnormalities. Simple measures of gait may provide useful clinical tools, assisting in the prediction of dementia. However, the underlying nature of these deficits is not yet known.
- Cognitive decline
- Vascular risk