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.
Gait disturbances linked with decline in cognitive function
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.
Researchers refine guidelines designed to identify Alzheimer's early
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."