Physical activity, cognitive decline, and risk of dementia: 28 year follow-up of Whitehall II cohort study

Objective To test the hypotheses that physical activity in midlife is not associated with a reduced risk of dementia and that the preclinical phase of dementia is characterised by a decline in physical activity.

Design Prospective cohort study with a mean follow-up of 27 years.

Setting Civil service departments in London (Whitehall II study).

Participants 10 308 participants aged 35-55 years at study inception (1985-88). Exposures included time spent in mild, moderate to vigorous, and total physical activity assessed seven times between 1985 and 2013 and categorised as “recommended” if duration of moderate to vigorous physical activity was 2.5 hours/week or more.

Main outcome measures A battery of cognitive tests was administered up to four times from 1997 to 2013, and incident dementia cases (n=329) were identified through linkage to hospital, mental health services, and mortality registers until 2015.

Results Mixed effects models showed no association between physical activity and subsequent 15 year cognitive decline. Similarly, Cox regression showed no association between physical activity and risk of dementia over an average 27 year follow-up (hazard ratio in the “recommended” physical activity category 1.00, 95% confidence interval 0.80 to 1.24). For trajectories of hours/week of total, mild, and moderate to vigorous physical activity in people with dementia compared with those without dementia (all others), no differences were observed between 28 and 10 years before diagnosis of dementia. However, physical activity in people with dementia began to decline up to nine years before diagnosis (difference in moderate to vigorous physical activity −0.39 hours/week; P=0.05), and the difference became more pronounced (−1.03 hours/week; P=0.005) at diagnosis.

Conclusion This study found no evidence of a neuroprotective effect of physical activity. Previous findings showing a lower risk of dementia in physically active people may be attributable to reverse causation—that is, due to a decline in physical activity levels in the preclinical phase of dementia.

Reference: BMJ 2017;357:j2709

Effectiveness of a 6-year multidomain vascular care intervention to prevent dementia (preDIVA): a cluster-randomised controlled trial


Cardiovascular risk factors are associated with an increased risk of dementia. We assessed whether a multidomain intervention targeting these factors can prevent dementia in a population of community-dwelling older people.


In this open-label, cluster-randomised controlled trial, we recruited individuals aged 70–78 years through participating general practices in the Netherlands. General practices within each health-care centre were randomly assigned (1:1), via a computer-generated randomisation sequence, to either a 6-year nurse-led, multidomain cardiovascular intervention or control (usual care). The primary outcomes were cumulative incidence of dementia and disability score (Academic Medical Center Linear Disability Score [ALDS]) at 6 years of follow-up. The main secondary outcomes were incident cardiovascular disease and mortality. Outcome assessors were masked to group assignment. Analyses included all participants with available outcome data. This trial is registered with ISRCTN, number ISRCTN29711771.


Between June 7, 2006, and March 12, 2009, 116 general practices (3526 participants) within 26 health-care centres were recruited and randomly assigned: 63 (1890 participants) were assigned to the intervention group and 53 (1636 participants) to the control group. Primary outcome data were obtained for 3454 (98%) participants; median follow-up was 6·7 years (21 341 person-years). Dementia developed in 121 (7%) of 1853 participants in the intervention group and in 112 (7%) of 1601 participants in the control group (hazard ratio [HR] 0·92, 95% CI 0·71–1·19; p=0·54). Mean ALDS scores measured during follow-up did not differ between groups (85·7 [SD 6·8] in the intervention group and 85·7 [7·1] in the control group; adjusted mean difference −0·02, 95% CI −0·38 to 0·42; p=0·93). 309 (16%) of 1885 participants died in the intervention group, compared with 269 (16%) of 1634 participants in the control group (HR 0·98, 95% CI 0·80–1·18; p=0·81). Incident cardiovascular disease did not differ between groups (273 [19%] of 1469 participants in the intervention group and 228 [17%] of 1307 participants in the control group; HR 1·06, 95% CI 0·86–1·31; p=0·57).


A nurse-led, multidomain intervention did not result in a reduced incidence of all-cause dementia in an unselected population of older people. This absence of effect might have been caused by modest baseline cardiovascular risks and high standards of usual care. Future studies should assess the efficacy of such interventions in selected populations.


Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport; Dutch Innovation Fund of Collaborative Health Insurances; and Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development.

The Lancet, Volume 388, No. 10046, p797–805, 20 August 2016

Incidence of Dementia over Three Decades in the Framingham Heart Study


The prevalence of dementia is expected to soar as the average life expectancy increases, but recent estimates suggest that the age-specific incidence of dementia is declining in high-income countries. Temporal trends are best derived through continuous monitoring of a population over a long period with the use of consistent diagnostic criteria. We describe temporal trends in the incidence of dementia over three decades among participants in the Framingham Heart Study.


Participants in the Framingham Heart Study have been under surveillance for incident dementia since 1975. In this analysis, which included 5205 persons 60 years of age or older, we used Cox proportional-hazards models adjusted for age and sex to determine the 5-year incidence of dementia during each of four epochs. We also explored the interactions between epoch and age, sex, apolipoprotein E ε4 status, and educational level, and we examined the effects of these interactions, as well as the effects of vascular risk factors and cardiovascular disease, on temporal trends.


The 5-year age- and sex-adjusted cumulative hazard rates for dementia were 3.6 per 100 persons during the first epoch (late 1970s and early 1980s), 2.8 per 100 persons during the second epoch (late 1980s and early 1990s), 2.2 per 100 persons during the third epoch (late 1990s and early 2000s), and 2.0 per 100 persons during the fourth epoch (late 2000s and early 2010s). Relative to the incidence during the first epoch, the incidence declined by 22%, 38%, and 44% during the second, third, and fourth epochs, respectively. This risk reduction was observed only among persons who had at least a high school diploma (hazard ratio, 0.77; 95% confidence interval, 0.67 to 0.88). The prevalence of most vascular risk factors (except obesity and diabetes) and the risk of dementia associated with stroke, atrial fibrillation, or heart failure have decreased over time, but none of these trends completely explain the decrease in the incidence of dementia.


Among participants in the Framingham Heart Study, the incidence of dementia has declined over the course of three decades. The factors contributing to this decline have not been completely identified. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.)

By Claudia L. Satizabal et al, N Engl J Med 2016; 374:523-532

Benzodiazepine use and risk of incident dementia or cognitive decline: prospective population based study

Objective To determine whether higher cumulative use of benzodiazepines is associated with a higher risk of dementia or more rapid cognitive decline.

Design Prospective population based cohort.

Setting Integrated healthcare delivery system, Seattle, Washington.

Participants 3434 participants aged ≥65 without dementia at study entry. There were two rounds of recruitment (1994-96 and 2000-03) followed by continuous enrollment beginning in 2004.

Main outcomes measures The cognitive abilities screening instrument (CASI) was administered every two years to screen for dementia and was used to examine cognitive trajectory. Incident dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were determined with standard diagnostic criteria. Benzodiazepine exposure was defined from computerized pharmacy data and consisted of the total standardized daily doses (TSDDs) dispensed over a 10 year period (a rolling window that moved forward in time during follow-up). The most recent year was excluded because of possible use for prodromal symptoms. Multivariable Cox proportional hazard models were used to examine time varying use of benzodiazepine and dementia risk. Analyses of cognitive trajectory used linear regression models with generalized estimating equations.

Results Over a mean follow-up of 7.3 years, 797 participants (23.2%) developed dementia, of whom 637 developed Alzheimer’s disease. For dementia, the adjusted hazard ratios associated with cumulative benzodiazepine use compared with non-use were 1.25 (95% confidence interval 1.03 to 1.51) for 1-30 TSDDs; 1.31 (1.00 to 1.71) for 31-120 TSDDs; and 1.07 (0.82 to 1.39) for ≥121 TSDDs. Results were similar for Alzheimer’s disease. Higher benzodiazepine use was not associated with more rapid cognitive decline.

Conclusion The risk of dementia is slightly higher in people with minimal exposure to benzodiazepines but not with the highest level of exposure. These results do not support a causal association between benzodiazepine use and dementia.

By Shelly L Gray et al, BMJ 2016;352:i90

Effect of Dextromethorphan-Quinidine on Agitation in Patients With Alzheimer Disease Dementia: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Importance Agitation is common among patients with Alzheimer disease; safe, effective treatments are lacking. Objective To assess the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of dextromethorphan hydrobromide–quinidine sulfate for Alzheimer disease–related agitation.

Design, Setting, and Participants Phase 2 randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial using a sequential parallel comparison design with 2 consecutive 5-week treatment stages conducted August 2012–August 2014. Patients with probable Alzheimer disease, clinically significant agitation (Clinical Global Impressions–Severity agitation score ≥4), and a Mini-Mental State Examination score of 8 to 28 participated at 42 US study sites. Stable dosages of antidepressants, antipsychotics, hypnotics, and antidementia medications were allowed. Interventions In stage 1, 220 patients were randomized in a 3:4 ratio to receive dextromethorphan-quinidine (n=93) or placebo (n=127). In stage 2, patients receiving dextromethorphan-quinidine continued; those receiving placebo were stratified by response and rerandomized in a 1:1 ratio to dextromethorphan-quinidine (n=59) or placebo (n=60).

Main Outcomes and Measures The primary end point was change from baseline on the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) Agitation/Aggression domain (scale range, 0 [absence of symptoms] to 12 [symptoms occur daily and with marked severity]). Results A total of 194 patients (88.2%) completed the study. With the sequential parallel comparison design, 152 patients received dextromethorphan-quinidine and 127 received placebo during the study. Analysis combining stages 1 (all patients) and 2 (rerandomized placebo nonresponders) showed significantly reduced NPI Agitation/Aggression scores for dextromethorphan-quinidine vs placebo (ordinary least squares z statistic, −3.95; P<.001). In stage 1, mean NPI Agitation/Aggression scores were reduced from 7.1 to 3.8 – 6 – with dextromethorphan-quinidine and from 7.0 to 5.3 with placebo. Between-group treatment differences were significant in stage 1 (least squares mean, −1.5; 95% CI, −2.3 to −0.7; P<.001). In stage 2, NPI Agitation/Aggression scores were reduced from 5.8 to 3.8 with dextromethorphan-quinidine and from 6.7 to 5.8 with placebo. Between-group treatment differences were also significant in stage 2 (least squares mean, −1.6; 95% CI, −2.9 to −0.3; P=.02). Adverse events included falls (8.6% for dextromethorphan-quinidine vs 3.9% for placebo), diarrhea (5.9% vs 3.1% respectively), and urinary tract infection (5.3% vs 3.9% respectively). Serious adverse events occurred in 7.9% with dextromethorphan-quinidine vs 4.7% with placebo. Dextromethorphan-quinidine was not associated with cognitive impairment, sedation, or clinically significant QTc prolongation.

Conclusions and Relevance In this preliminary 10-week phase 2 randomized clinical trial of patients with probable Alzheimer disease, combination dextromethorphan-quinidine demonstrated clinically relevant efficacy for agitation and was generally well tolerated.

Effect of Dextromethorphan-Quinidine on Agitation in Patients With Alzheimer Disease Dementia: A Randomized Clinical Trial by Jeffrey L. Cummings, et al. JAMA. 2015;314(12):1242-1254.