Characteristics of Alzheimer's Disease Patients with Severe Executive Disorders

J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;51(3):815-25. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150971.


Background: Executive dysfunctions in Alzheimer's disease (AD) have been assessed using variable batteries and/or in selected populations.

Objective: The primary objective of this observational study was to determine the prevalence and severity of executive dysfunction in AD patients using a previously validated battery. The secondary objective was to determine the characteristics including treatment outcomes of AD patients with severe executive dysfunction.

Methods: The study included AD patients with mild-to-moderate dementia aged 60 or over, consulting in various clinical settings including memory clinics and requiring the introduction of an antidementia drug. Executive dysfunction was examined using a validated, shortened executive battery.

Results: 381 patients were included. Executive dysfunctions were observed in 88.2% of the patients (95% CI: 84.9-91.4) and were severe (defined as ≥2/3 impaired scores) in 80.4% (95% CI: 76.9-84.8). Global hypoactivity with apathy was more frequent (p = 0.0001) than impairment in executive function tests. The 308 patients with severe executive dysfunction were older (p = 0.003) and had more severe dementia (p = 0.0001). Similarly, in the subset of 257 patients with mild dementia, individuals with severe executive dysfunction were older (p = 0.003) and had more severe dementia. Global hypoactivity was independently associated with difficulties in IADL and a higher caregiver burden (p = 0.0001 for both). The severity of executive dysfunction did not significantly influence the patients' outcomes at 6 months.

Conclusions: Executive dysfunction is a very common disorder in a representative population of patients with mild-to-moderate AD. It was independently correlated with impaired autonomy and increased caregiver burden but did not significantly influence treatment outcomes.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; apathy; cognitive disorders; control function; executive function; treatment.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / therapy
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Cost of Illness
  • Executive Function*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome