TitleBalance and cognitive decline in older adults in the cardiovascular health study.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsMeunier, CC, Smit, E, Fitzpatrick, AL, Odden, MC
JournalAge Ageing
Date Published03/2021

BACKGROUND: Previous studies have demonstrated an association between gait speed and cognitive function. However, the relationship between balance and cognition remains less well explored. This study examined the cross-sectional and longitudinal relationship of balance and cognitive decline in older adults.

METHODS: A cohort of 4,811 adults, aged ≥65 years, participating in the Cardiovascular Health Study was followed for 6 years. Modified Mini-Mental State Examination (3MSE) and Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST) were used to measure cognition. Tandem balance measures were used to evaluate balance. Regression models were adjusted for demographics, behavioural and disease factors.

RESULTS: Worse balance was independently associated with worse cognition in cross-sectional analysis. Longitudinally, participants aged ≥76 years with poorer balance had a faster rate of decline after adjustment for co-variates: -0.97 points faster decline in 3MSE per year (95% confidence interval (CI): -1.32, -0.63) compared to the participants with good balance. There was no association of balance and change in 3MSE among adults aged <76 years (P value for balance and age interaction < 0.0001). DSST scores reflected -0.21 (95% CI: -0.37, -0.05) points greater decline when adjusted for co-variates. In Cox proportional hazard models, participants with worse balance had a higher risk of being cognitively impaired over the 6 years of follow-up visits (adjusted HR:1.72, 95% CI: 1.30, 2.29).

CONCLUSIONS: Future studies should evaluate standing balance as a potential screening technique to identify individuals at risk of cognitive decline. Furthermore, a better understanding of the pathophysiological link between balance and cognition may inform strategies to prevent cognitive decline.

Alternate JournalAge Ageing
PubMed ID33693525