Dr. Greg A. Sachs, a professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Regenstrief Institute investigator, said the study involved 3,957 people ages 60-102, who were initially seen from 1991 to 1993 by primary care physicians and were tracked for 13 years. At screening, 3,157 had no cognitive impairment, 533 had mild impairment and 267 had moderate to severe impairment.
Study participants were screened for cognitive impairment using an easy-to-administer 10-question mental status questionnaire. On the basis of the number of errors patients made on the test, they were categorized as having no, mild, or moderate-to-severe cognitive impairment
he study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found at follow-up, 57 percent of patients with no impairment died, compared with 68 percent of those with mild impairment and 79 percent of those with moderate to severe impairment. Median survival time was 138 months for patients with no impairment,106 months for those with mild impairment and 63 months for those with moderate to severe impairment, the study said.
"We found that even mild cognitive impairment, as determined by a simple screening tool in a primary care physician's office, has a strong impact on how long individuals survive on the same order as other chronic diseases," Sachs said in a statement.