Objectives: To identify subjects with minimal or mild nonamnestic cognitive impairment with parkinsonian stance and gait and investigate vascular correlates of this condition.
Design: First wave of an epidemiological longitudinal study (InCHIANTI) on factors predicting loss of mobility in older persons.
Setting: The Chianti geographic area (Tuscany, Italy).
Participants: Five hundred fifty-six subjects aged 70 to 90 with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores greater than 23 of 30, of the 1,260 persons aged 65 and older randomly selected from the population registry of Greve in Chianti and Bagno a Ripoli, two small towns near Florence.
Methods: Low cognitive performance (LCP) was defined as an age- and education-adjusted MMSE below the 50th percentile for the InCHIANTI population. Subcortical features were plastic rigidity on neurological examination (parkinsonism), gait disturbance (small-step gait or parkinsonian gait), and dysexecutive features. Two hundred forty-three participants had high cognitive performance, 166 had LCP without subcortical features, and 75 had LCP with subcortical features. Vascular risk factors were hypertension, atrial fibrillation or pathological findings on electrocardiogram (ECG), low serum high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, obesity, and heavy smoking.
Results: Three main vascular risk factors were significantly more prevalent in LCP with subcortical features: hypertension (P =.02), atrial fibrillation or ECG changes (P =.04), and low HDL cholesterol (P =.001). LCP with subcortical features was significantly associated with cerebrovascular risk factors (P =.001).
Conclusion: Gait disturbance and nonamnestic cognitive symptoms might be the consequence of subcortical vascular damage.