26 january 2010

Prevalence of Alcohol-Related Problems in an Elderly Population and Their Association With Cognitive Impairment and Dementia

Background: Studies investigating the association between alcohol use and cognitive disorders in the elderly population have produced divergent results. Moreover, the role of alcohol in cognitive dysfunction is not clear. The aims of this study were to estimate the prevalence of alcohol-related problems in an elderly population from Brazil and to investigate their association with cognitive and functional impairment (CFI) and dementia.

Methods: A community-based cross-sectional study was performed. A sample of 1,145 elderly people was examined in 2 phases. Several instruments were utilized in the first phase: the CAGE questionnaire was used to identify potential cases of alcohol-related problems, and a screening test for dementia was used to estimate CFI. The CAMDEX interview (Cambridge Examination) and DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition) criteria were used for the clinical diagnosis of dementia in the second phase.

Results: "Heavy alcohol use" (CAGE >/= 2) was found in 92 subjects (prevalence: 8.2%). It was associated with gender (males, p < 0.001), low education (only in females, p = 0.002), and low socioeconomic level (p = 0.001, in females; p = 0.002, in males). The Mini Mental State Examination exhibited a nonlinear relationship with alcohol-related problems in females; "mild-moderate alcohol use" (CAGE < 2) presented the highest score. A significant association between alcohol-related problems and cognitive dysfunction was found only in females. "Heavy alcohol use" was associated with higher CFI and dementia rates compared to "mild-moderate alcohol use" (p = 0.003 and p < 0.001, respectively). "Mild-moderate alcohol use" had a tendency of association with lower CFI and dementia rates when compared to "no alcohol use" (p = 0.063 and 0.050, respectively).

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that alcohol use does not have a linear relationship with cognitive decline.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Lopes M.A.; Furtado E.F.; Ferrioli E.; Litvoc J.; de Campos Bottino C.M.
  • Issue

    Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2010 Apr;34(4):726-33.
  • Published Date

    26 january 2010