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Even mild cognitive impairment appears to substantially increase risk for death
Date:9/5/2011

. Median survival time was 138 months for patients with no impairment, 106 months for those with mild impairment, and 63 months for those with moderate to severe impairment.

Study participants were screened for cognitive impairment using an easy-to-administer 10-question mental status questionnaire. On the basis of the number of errors patients made on this test, they were categorized as having no, mild, or moderate to severe cognitive impairment. The Regenstrief Medical Record System was used to obtain data on the patients' medical conditions, results of lab tests and other relevant information.

Cognitive impairment affects memory and thinking. Approximately 4 million to 5 million people in the United States have dementia, and the number of individuals affected is significantly higher if individuals with milder forms of cognitive impairment are included. The prevalence of cognitive impairment at all stages is expected to increase as the population ages.

The study findings have important clinical and prognostic implications beyond dementia detection, treatment and support for affected patients and their families. Reduced life expectancy in patients with cognitive impairment should be factored into medical decisions, such as advance care planning, cancer screening and prescribing of medications, especially in patients with severe impairment, the authors state.

Given that the magnitude of the risk of mild and moderate to severe cognitive impairment is similar to that of many life-limiting diseases, as well as the ease of indentifying cognitive impairment by using a short screening tool, recognition of cognitive impairment in primary care practices should be given a higher priority, the study concludes.


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Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen
caisen@iupui.edu
317-274-7722
Indiana University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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Even mild cognitive impairment appears to substantially increase risk for death
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