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Researchers Document Prevalence of Dementia and MCI in Individuals with Essential Tremor Along with Annual Conversion Rates for Cognitive Impairment

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New study results showed that individuals with essential tremor had or developed dementia at a rate 3 times higher than the general population and had or developed mild cognitive impairment (MCI) at a rate almost 2 times higher than the general population. Researchers presented their findings at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 2024 Annual Meeting.  

At the study's onset, there were 222 participants with essential tremor (average age of 79 years) who underwent comprehensive cognitive assessments and were assigned to 1 of 3 categories: normal cognition, MCI, or dementia. At baseline: 168 participants had normal cognition, 35 were diagnosed with MCI, and 19 were diagnosed with dementia.

In all, 177 participants received follow-up evaluations at 18, 36, 54, and 72 months. Researchers compared data from these participants with data from controls in the general population and data from patients with Parkinson disease.

  • Over the course of the study, 19% of participants had or developed dementia, and an average of 12% of those diagnosed with MCI developed dementia each year.
  • The cumulative prevalence of MCI was 27% in those with essential tremor compared with 14.5% seen in the general population and 40% in people with Parkinson disease.

"While the majority of people with essential tremor will not develop dementia, our findings provide the basis for physicians to educate people with essential tremor and their families about the heightened risk, and any potential life changes likely to accompany this diagnosis," said Elan D. Louis, MD, MSc, study author, Distinguished Chair in Neurology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.

This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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Schedule20 May 2024