Differential Risk of Incident Alzheimer's Disease Dementia in Stable Versus Unstable Patterns of Subjective Cognitive Decline

J Alzheimers Dis. 2016 Oct 4;54(3):1135-1146. doi: 10.3233/JAD-160407.


Background: It is unknown whether longitudinal stability versus instability in subjective cognitive decline (SCD) is a modifying factor of the association between SCD and risk of incident Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia.

Objective: We tested the modifying role of temporal stability of the SCD report on AD dementia risk in cognitively normal elderly individuals.

Methods: We analyzed data of 1,990 cognitively normal participants from the longitudinal AgeCoDe Study. We assessed SCD with/without associated worries both at baseline and first follow-up 18 months later. Participants were then classified either as (a) Controls (CO, with no SCD at both baseline and follow-up 1, n = 613), (b) inconsistent SCD (with SCD reported only at baseline or at follow-up 1, n = 637), (c) consistent SCD but without/or with inconsistent worries (n = 610) or (d) consistent SCD with worries (n = 130). We estimated incident AD dementia risk over up to 6 years for each group with Cox-Proportional Hazard Regression analyses adjusted for age, gender, education, ApoE4 status, and depression.

Results: Compared to CO, inconsistent SCD was not associated with increased risk of incident AD dementia. In contrast, risk was doubled in the group of consistent SCD without/ with inconsistent worries, and almost 4-fold in the group of consistent SCD with worries. These results could be replicated when using follow-up 1 to follow-up 2 response patterns for group definition.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that longitudinal stability versus instability is an important modifying factor of the association between SCD and AD dementia risk. Worrisome SCD that is also consistently reported over time is associated with greatly increased risk of AD dementia.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; dementia; prognosis; subjective cognitive decline.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / epidemiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Risk Factors