Levels of uric acid might have a say in whether an elderly patient may develop cognitive problems, according to researchers.
The study published in the January issue of Neuropsychology, by Johns Hopkins and Yale University medical schools researchers, looked at 96 community-dwelling adults aged 60 to 92 years old.
The participants with uric acid levels in the high-normal range, defined as 5.8 to 7.6 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) in men and 4.8 to 7.1 mg/dL in women, had the lowest scores on tests of mental processing speed, verbal memory and working memory, regardless of age, sex, weight, race, education, diabetes, hypertension, smoking and alcohol abuse.
This suggests that older people with uric-acid levels in the high end of the normal range are more likely to process information slowly and experience failures of verbal and working memory, as measured by the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale and other well-established neuropsychological tests.
Says lead author Dr. David Schretlen, 'Uric acid levels increase with age. Higher levels of uric acid are linked with known risk factors for dementia, including high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, Type 2 diabetes, abdominal obesity and insulin resistance.'
This new evidence of the connection between uric acid and cognitive function indicates that uric acid testing could be a valuable tool for detecting early cognitive problems in old age.
Doctors may now be advised to offer neuropsychological screening for elderly patients having high blood serum uric acid levels.