Objectives: To investigate, in a cohort of nondisabled elderly people, the association between urinary complaints and severity of age-related white matter changes (ARWMC).
Design: Cross-sectional data analysis from a longitudinal multinational study.
Setting: The Leukoaraiosis And DISability Study, assessing ARWMC as an independent predictor of the transition from functional autonomy to disability in elderly subjects.
Participants: Six hundred thirty-nine subjects (288 men, 351 women, mean age 74.1+/-5.0) with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-detected ARWMC of different severity.
Measurements: ARWMC severity was graded on MRI as mild, moderate, and severe (Fazekas scale). MRI assessment also included ARWMC volumetric analysis and the count of infarcts. Urinary complaints (nocturia, urinary frequency, urgency, incontinence) were recorded based on subjects' answers to four questions.
Results: In comparing the three ARWMC severity groups, there was a significant difference only in prevalence of urgency, with 16% of subjects in the mild severity group, 17% in the moderate severity group, and 25% in the severe group (P=.03). Adjusting for age, sex, lacunar and nonlacunar infarcts, diabetes mellitus, and use of diuretics, severe ARWMC retained an independent effect in the association with urinary urgency (odds ratio=1.74, 95% confidence interval=1.04-2.90, severe vs mild group). Subjects with urinary urgency also had higher ARWMC volumes (25.2, vs 20.4 mm(3) in those without urinary urgency; P<.001). Urgency was confirmed to be associated with the severe degree of ARWMC, irrespective of complaints of memory, gait disturbances, or history of depression.
Conclusion: In a cohort of nondisabled elderly people, severe ARWMC were associated with urinary urgency, independent of other potential confounders and vascular lesions of the brain.