ROCHESTER, Minn. — July 12, 2012. Problems walking including slow gait and a short stride are associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline, Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered. Their findings are being presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference July 14–19 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Mayo Clinic researchers are presenting on several topics, including the following:
MULTIMEDIA ALERT: For multimedia resources including interviews with study authors visit Mayo Clinic News Network.
Researchers measured the stride length, cadence and velocity of more than 1,341 participants through a computerized gait instrument at two or more visits roughly 15 months apart. Researchers found that study participants with lower cadence, velocity and length of stride experienced significantly larger declines in global cognition, memory and executive function.
"These results support a possible role of gait changes as an early predictor of cognitive impairment," said study author Rodolfo Savica, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurologist.
Mayo Clinic researchers, the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association published new guidelines in April for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. They separate the progression of Alzheimer's into three stages: (1) pre-clinical (or pre-symptomatic) Alzheimer's disease, (2) mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer's disease, and (3) Alzheimer's disease dementia.
At this year's conference, Mayo Clinic researchers reported on the validity of Stage 2 MCI. This stage was designed to differentiate patients with early Alzheimer's disease from those with other cognitive issues. Researchers studied 156 people who met the criteria for MCI. Of those, 67 percent had evidence of early Alzheimer's disease.
"These results indicate that the new diagnostic criteria for MCI due to Alzheimer's works quite well," said study author Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D, a Mayo Clinic neurologist. "Ultimately, though, the validity of these new criteria will be determined by the long-term outcome of these subjects."
The 2012 Zaven Khachaturian Award was presented to Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D. and Cora Kanow Professor in Alzheimer's Disease Research. Dr. Petersen is the Chester and Debbie Cadieux Director of Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and the director of the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. The award recognizes an individual whose compelling vision, selfless dedication, and extraordinary achievement has significantly advanced the field of Alzheimer's science.
Dr. Petersen's current research focuses on the study of normal aging, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. He was appointed chair of the Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care and Services for the National Alzheimer's Project Act by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and he took a leading role drafting the first U.S. National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease.
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