Health-care professionals, patients, and families seek as much information as possible about prognosis for patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD); however, we do not yet have a robust understanding of how demographic factors predict prognosis. We evaluated associations between age at presentation, age of onset, and symptom length with cognitive decline as measured using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Clinical Dementia Rating sum-of-boxes (CDR-SOB) in a large dataset of AD patients. Age at presentation was associated with post-presentation decline in MMSE (p < 0.001), with younger patients showing faster decline. There was little evidence of an association with change in CDR-SOB. Symptom length, rather than age, was the strongest predictor of MMSE and CDR-SOB at presentation, with increasing symptom length associated with worse outcomes. The evidence that younger AD patients have a more aggressive disease course implies that early diagnosis is essential.
Keywords: Age factors; Alzheimer’s disease; age of onset; cognition; cognitive decline.