Alzheimer’s disease: nutritional status and cognitive aspects associated with disease severity

Tamires Barbosa Nascimento dos Santos, Lineu Corrêa Fonseca, Gloria M.A.S. Tedrus, Julia Laura Delbue


Introduction: Alzheimer’s pathology is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by cognitive impairment and functional disability that causes
progressive restrictions in daily activities. The present study associates nutritional status with cognitive and clinical aspects of the elderly with
mild, moderate and severe Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Methods: data from the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA), bioelectrical impedance (BIA), anthropometric measurements, and physical activity
indicators were associated with clinical and cognitive aspects of 43 elderly patients with AD. The data were compared to a paired control group (NC) (n = 51) at a significance level of p < 0.05.

Results: elderly patients with AD presented lower cognitive performance, higher risk of malnutrition (p = 0.001), lower weight (t-test, p = 0.017) and body mass index (BMI) (p = 0.006), and higher sedentarity (Chi-square, p = 0.040) when compared with the NC. The elderly with AD presented significant reduction in lean body mass (LM) and increased fat mass (FM). As dementia progresses, significant impairment of nutritional indicators is observed. Elderly patients with severe AD present lower weight, BMI, MNA scores and increased body fat mass index and fat mass when compared with those with mild/moderate AD. A correlation was observed between better cognitive performance and weight, BMI, calf circumference and triceps skinfold thickness.

Conclusion: elderly patients with AD present high sedentarity, risk of malnutrition, lower weight, BMI and LM, and increased FM. There was progressive impairment of nutritional status and cognition as the disease progressed. There is an association between the nutritional variables and cognitive aspects.

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