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Neuropathological Correlates of Falling in the CC75C Population-Based Sample of the Older Old

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Background: Previous imaging studies have suggested links between brain pathologies and factors that are associated with falls such as gait, balance and daily function. Possible neuropathological correlates of older people’s falls have been suggested based on brain imaging studies, but to date none have been examined in brain tissue. Methods: Falls data collected from repeated surveys of a population-based cohort of individuals aged at least 75 years old at baseline were related to neuropathological data collected from post-mortem examination of the study’s associated brain donor collection (n=212). Results: Amongst people without dementia, most cerebrovascular neuropathological features examined, particularly white matter pallor, microinfarcts and microscopic atherosclerosis, were increasingly common across the subgroups categorised by no reports of falling, only one or at least two reports of falling. The overall burden of pathology was greater in those with dementia, but only microinfarcts showed a similar increase with respect to reported falling status. Conclusions: Subclinical pathologies sharing a common vascular origin are associated with increased falling amongst people with no dementia, as are microinfarcts in those with dementia. Although further research is needed to address the mechanisms of falls and their neuropathological correlates, the findings from the current study would suggest that if cerebrovascular disease prevention reduces vascular neuropathology changes this may have direct benefits in reducing falls amongst older people with or without dementia.
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Keywords: Brain atrophy; Neuropathology; accidental falls; cohort study; dementia; demyelination; mobility impairments; old age

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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  • Current Alzheimer Research publishes peer-reviewed frontier review and research articles on all areas of Alzheimer's disease. This multidisciplinary journal will help in understanding the neurobiology, genetics, pathogenesis, and treatment strategies of Alzheimer's disease. The journal publishes objective reviews written by experts and leaders actively engaged in research using cellular, molecular, and animal models. The journal also covers original articles on recent research in fast emerging areas of molecular diagnostics, brain imaging, drug development and discovery, and clinical aspects of Alzheimer's disease. Manuscripts are encouraged that relate to the synergistic mechanism of Alzheimer's disease with other dementia and neurodegenerative disorders. Book reviews, meeting reports and letters-to-the-editor are also published. The journal is essential reading for researchers, educators and physicians with interest in age-related dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Current Alzheimer Research provides a comprehensive 'bird's-eye view' of the current state of Alzheimer's research for neuroscientists, clinicians, health science planners, granting, caregivers and families of this devastating disease.
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