According to new research from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, they have observed that doctors have a new tool that may help them predict who will develop a form of dementia later in life. The research from Albert Einstein College of Medicine finds the presence of an abnormal gait in elderly people without dementia predicts the risk of developing dementia. The form of dementia is non-Alzheimer's dementia.
Gait disorders are increasingly common with advancing age. Between 9% and 20% percent of elderly people have this disorder. Doctors speculate a gait disorder may be able to predict dementia, but they have not been completely sure of the connection. They often report patients who have Alzheimer's have a gait disorder, so they theorized it might be a warning sign. This study looked at the relationship between the two.
Doctors studied 410 people age 65 and older. At the beginning of the study, 80 people had abnormal walking patterns. During the follow-up period, there were 113 newly diagnosed cases of dementia, 75 of them Alzheimer's and 52 non-Alzheimer's. The researchers write, "Subjects with neurologic gait abnormalities had a greater risk of development of non-Alzheimer's dementia."
They conclude these findings indicate a strong connection between gait disorders and dementia. "If replicated, these findings would provide a strategy for identifying a group at very high risk for vascular dementia and would facilitate the introduction of preventive interventions designed to reduce the incidence of non-Alzheimer's dementia, especially vascular dementia," say researchers.