J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2014 Jan;15(1):36-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2013.11.004.
Regional white matter lesions predict falls in patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.
OBJECTIVES: Preventive strategy for falls in demented elderly is a clinical challenge. From early-stage of Alzheimer's disease (AD), patients show impaired balance and gait. The purpose of this study is to determine whether regional white matter lesions (WMLs) can predict balance/gait disturbance and falls in elderly with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) or AD.
SETTINGS: Hospital out-patient clinic.
PARTICIPANTS: One hundred sixty-three patients diagnosed with aMCI or AD were classified into groups having experienced falls (n = 63) or not (n = 100) in the previous year.
MEASUREMENTS: Cognition, depression, behavior and psychological symptoms of dementia, medication, and balance/gait function were evaluated. Regional WMLs were visually analyzed as periventricular hyperintensity in frontal caps, bands, and occipital caps, and as deep white matter hyperintensity in frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes, basal ganglia, thalamus, and brain stem. Brain atrophy was linearly measured.
RESULTS: The fallers had a greater volume of WMLs and their posture/gait performance tended to be worse than nonfallers. Several WMLs in particular brain regions were closely associated with balance and gait impairment. Besides polypharmacy, periventricular hyperintensity in frontal caps and occipital WMLs were strong predictors for falls, even after potential risk factors for falls were considered.
CONCLUSIONS: Regional white matter burden, independent of cognitive decline, correlates with balance/gait disturbance and predicts falls in elderly with aMCI and AD. Careful insight into regional WMLs on brain magnetic resonance may greatly help to diagnose demented elderly with a higher risk of falls.