Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Alzheimer Disease and Cognitively Impaired, Nondemented Elderly From a Community-Based Sample in Brazil: Prevalence and Relationship With Dementia Severity

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The objectives of this study were to describe the prevalence of neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia in Alzheimer disease (AD) and cognitively impaired nondemented (CIND) subjects from a community-based Brazilian sample and to correlate these symptoms with severity of cognitive deficits.


A total of 1,563 randomly selected subjects were evaluated with the following screening tests: Mini-Mental Status Examination, Fuld Object Memory Evaluation, Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly, and Activities of Daily Living–International Scale. Screen positives were submitted to a workup for dementia, physical and neurologic examination, cranial computed tomography or cerebral magnetic resonance imaging, the Cambridge Examination for Mental Disorders, Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDR), and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI). Diagnosis was made according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, criteria.


Sixty patients with AD, 25 CIND, and 78 healthy elderly subjects were evaluated. Informants reported that 78.33% of patients with AD had one or more neuropsychiatric symptoms. Apathy (53.33%), depression (38.33%), sleep alterations (38.33%), and anxiety (25%) were the most prevalent disturbances in AD subjects. These disturbances were more prevalent in patients with AD than in the comparison group and CIND individuals. In the CIND group, the most frequent neuropsychiatric symptoms were anxiety and sleep alterations (both with 24%) followed by depression (16%). Total NPI scores were significantly different between AD and CIND groups, AD and comparison groups, and CIND and the comparison group. Apathy was the only neuropsychiatric symptom that was significantly different between the groups divided according to the CDR being more frequent in subjects with moderate to severe dementia.


Neuropsychiatric symptoms seem to be as common in patients living in a developing country as they are in demented patients from the developed world. Indeed, the fact that some of our results are similar to other population-based studies may suggest that cultural factors play a minor role in the emergence of these symptoms, at least in a Latin American country like Brazil.

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