Incidence, gender influence, and neuropsychological predictors of all cause dementia in the Faroe Islands—the Faroese Septuagenarian cohort

Abstract

Background

Using the Faroese Septuagenarian cohort, we aimed to describe the incidence of dementia and assess the validity of neurocognitive tests to predict subsequent dementia diagnosis.

Methods

In this population-based cohort, 713 Faroese septuagenarians aged 70–74 years without dementia, underwent clinical and neuropsychological examinations. After 10-years of follow-up, information was collected on all participants referred for cognitive evaluations and diagnosed with dementia. Incidence rates were calculated and presented with 95% confidence intervals (CIs), assuming a Poisson distribution. We then performed discriminant analysis to determine the best set of neuropsychological tests to identify those who would develop dementia.

Results

Over the 10-years, 65 participants (9.1%) were diagnosed with dementia, with a 10-year incidence rate of 1063 cases per 100,000 person years (95% CI 825, 1343). Women had a greater incidence than men (incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 1.58; 95% CI 0.93, 2.71). After stepwise selection, gender and six neuropsychological measures were selected to discriminate between those who would and would not develop dementia. Overall, the model was able to correctly identify 82% of those who would not develop dementia (specificity) and 71% of those who would (sensitivity).

Conclusions

These results indicate that among a greater number of tests covering a broad range of cognitive abilities, tests reflecting verbal and visual learning and recall, visuospatial function, attention, and encoding into and retrieval from long-term memory may be helpful in identifying patients in the pre-symptomatic phase of dementia. Thus, helping care-givers identify patients at a higher risk of developing dementia and adjusting management of care accordingly.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Arni Ludvig psychologist and Hildigunn Steinhólm, research coordinator for their contribution at the baseline examinations.

Funding

The study was supported by the Faroese Research Council, National Institute of Health (Grant Numbers ES013692 & F32ES028087) and the European Commission Sixth Framework Programme for RTD (Grant Number FOOD-CT-2006-016253, PHIME).

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Correspondence to Maria Skaalum Petersen.

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Research involving human participants and/or animals

Yes, human subjects. All procedures have been approved by the Faroese Ethical Committee.

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Informed consent was obtained from all study participants.

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Paul, K.C., Debes, F., Eliasen, E. et al. Incidence, gender influence, and neuropsychological predictors of all cause dementia in the Faroe Islands—the Faroese Septuagenarian cohort. Aging Clin Exp Res 33, 105–114 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-020-01520-4

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Keywords

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dementia
  • Incidence
  • Neuropsychological tests
  • Faroe Islands