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Memory Complaints and Cognitive Decline: Data from the GuidAge Study

November 13, 2017
Toulouse, France – A new study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease by researchers at the Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse identifies a 5-item version of the McNair and Kahn Scale for predicting cognitive decline.

A memory complaint, also called subjective cognitive decline (SCD), is a subjective disorder that appears to be relatively common, especially in elderly persons. The reports of its prevalence in various populations range from approximately 10% to as high as 88%, although it is generally thought that the prevalence of everyday memory problems lie within the range of 25% to 50%.  It has been suggested that SCD may be an indication of cognitive decline at a very early stage of a neurodegenerative disease (i.e. preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease) that is undetectable by standard testing instruments. SCD may represent the first symptomatic manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease in individuals with unimpaired performance on cognitive tests.

The McNair and Kahn Scale or Cognitive Difficulties Scale was employed to define and characterize cognitive complaints in the GuidAge study, involving a population of more than 2800 individuals aged 70 years or older having voluntarily complained of memory problems to their general practitioner (GP). It contains items that are related to difficulties in attention, concentration, orientation, memory, praxis, domestic activities and errands, facial recognition, task efficiency, and name finding.

The results of the GuidAge study suggest that the assessment of cognitive complaint voluntarily reported to primary-care physicians, by the McNair and Kahn Scale can predict a decline in cognitive performance, as 5 items out of 20 were statistically significant.

These 5 items are:

  • item 1, “I hardly remember usual phone numbers”,
  • item 5, “I forget appointment, dates, where I store things”,
  • item 6, “I forget to call people back when they called me”,
  • item 10, “I forget the day of the week”,
  • item 13, “I need to have people repeat instructions several times”.  

Thanks to this short scale GPs, in clinical practice, can identify which patients with memory complaints should be referred to a memory center to assess cognitive functions.

GuidAge Study Group
The members of the GuidAge Study Group are: Principal Investigator: Prof. B. Vellas (Toulouse); Scientific Committee: Angers (G. Berrut), Bordeaux (J.F. Dartigues), Lille (F. Pasquier), Montpellier (J. Touchon), Nice (P. Robert), Paris (B. Dubois, F. Piette, L. Hugonot-Diener), Toulouse (B. Vellas, S. Andrieu, H. Grandjean); Endpoint Committee: S. Auriacombe, B. Laurent, P.J. Ousset, F Portet, M. Poncet. Hospital Centers: Angers (G. Berrut), Bordeaux (J.F. Dartigues), Bourges (M. Massot), Caen (V. de La Sayette), Gap (G. Lavernhe), Grenoble (A. de Galbert), Lille (F. Pasquier), Marseille (B. Michel, F. Bille-Turc), Montpellier/Nîmes/Uzès (J. Touchon, D. Strubel, F. Hoffet-Guillo), Nancy/Metz (F. Paille, H. Vespignani, S. Rettel), Nantes (O. Rodat), Nice (P. Robert), Paris (B. Dubois, A.S. Rigaud, F. Piette), Pau (P. Guillaumot), Rennes (C. Schleich), Rouen (D. Hannequin), Toulouse (B. Vellas), Tours (G. du Passage); and Co Investigators: 658 general practitioners participating in a clinical research networks (EURAXI Pharma, ISOCLIN, MG Recherche, PROCLINICA).

Acknowledgments
This study was initiated and funded by IPSEN-Beaufour, manufacturer of EGb 761.

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NOTES TO EDITORS
Full study: Dardenne S, Delrieu J, Sourdet S, Cantet C, Andrieu S, Mathiex-Fortunet H, Fougère B, Vellas B (2017) Memory Complaints and Cognitive Decline: Data from the GuidAge Study, J Alzheimers Dis, 60 1567–1578 (doi: 10.3233/JAD-170229)

Contact: Full text of the paper is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Diana Murray, IOS Press (+1 718 640 5678 or d.murray@iospress.com). Journalists who wish to reach the authors for comment should contact the corresponding author Bertrand Fougère at Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse, France (+33 561145657 or b.fougere@gmail.com).

ABOUT THE JOURNAL OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (j-alz.com) is an international multidisciplinary journal to facilitate progress in understanding the etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, genetics, behavior, treatment and psychology of Alzheimer’s disease. The journal publishes research reports, reviews, short communications, book reviews, and letters-to-the-editor. Groundbreaking research that has appeared in the journal includes novel therapeutic targets, mechanisms of disease and clinical trial outcomes. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has an Impact Factor of 3.731 according to the 2016 Journal Citation Reports (Clarivate Analytics, 2017). The journal is published by IOS Press (iospress.com).