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Slow walking speed and memory complaints can predict dementia
Date:7/25/2014

ed people were less likely to test positive for MCR compared with less-educated individuals. A slow gait, said Dr. Verghese, is a walking speed slower than about one meter per second, which is about 2.2 miles per hour (m.p.h.). Less than 0.6 meters per second (or 1.3 m.p.h.) is "clearly abnormal."

To test whether MCR predicts future dementia, the researchers focused on four of the 22 studies that tested a total of 4,812 people for MCR and then evaluated them annually over an average follow-up period of 12 years to see which ones developed dementia. Those who met the criteria for MCR were nearly twice as likely to develop dementia over the following 12 years compared with people who did not.

Dr. Verghese emphasized that a slow gait alone is not sufficient for a diagnosis of MCR. "Walking slowly could be due to conditions such as arthritis or an inner ear problem that affects balance, which would not increase risk for dementia. To meet the criteria for MCR requires having a slow gait and cognitive problems. An example would be answering 'yes' to the question, 'Do you think you have more memory problems than other people?'"

For patients meeting MCR criteria, said Dr. Verghese, the next step is to look for the causes of their slow gait and cognitive complaints. The search may reveal underlyingand controllableproblems. "Evidence increasingly suggests that brain health is closely tied to cardiovascular healthmeaning that treatable conditions such as hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes can interfere with blood flow to the brain and thereby increase a person's risk for developing Alzheimer's and other dementias," said Dr. Verghese.

What about people who meet MCR criteria but no treatable underlying problems can be found?

"Even in the absence of a specific cause, we know that most healthy lifestyle factors, such as exercising and eating healthier, have been shown to reduce the rate of cognitive decline
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Contact: Kim Newman
sciencenews@einstein.yu.edu
718-430-3101
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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