Association of Vascular Factors With Apathy in Community-Dwelling Elderly Individuals

Suzanne A. Ligthart, Edo Richard, Nina L. Fransen, Lisa S. M. Eurelings, Leo Beem, Piet Eikelenboom, Willem A. van Gool, Eric P. Moll van Charante

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Context: Apathy in community-dwelling elderly individuals has been associated with a history of stroke and other cardiovascular disease. Objective: To assess the relationship between symptoms of apathy and cardiovascular risk factors or disease (stroke or other) in a large sample of elderly people aged 70 to 78 years without depression or dementia. Design: Cross-sectional data analysis within an ongoing cluster-randomized, open, multicenter trial. Setting: The Netherlands, general community. Participants: We studied 3534 elderly individuals without dementia who were included in the Prevention of Dementia by Intensive Vascular Care trial. Main Outcome Measures: Symptoms of apathy, assessed with 3 items from the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale, in participants with few or no depressive symptoms. Results: The median age of participants was 74.3 years. Principal components analysis of the Geriatric Depression Scale confirmed a separate factor for the apathy items (Geriatric Depression Scale-3A). Two or more symptoms of apathy were present in 699 participants (19.9%), of whom 372 (53.2%) were without depressive symptoms (Geriatric Depression Scale-12D score <2). Ordinal regression analysis showed that increasing apathy in the absence of depressive symptoms was associated with a history of stroke (odds ratio, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.38-2.31) and cardiovascular disease other than stroke (1.28; 1.09-1.52). Exploratory analysis among 1889 participants free from stroke and other cardiovascular disease revealed an association between apathy score and the following cardiovascular risk factors: systolic blood pressure (P=.03), body mass index (P=.002), type 2 diabetes mellitus (P=.07), and C-reactive protein (P <.001). Conclusions: Symptoms indicative of apathy are common in community-dwelling nondemented older people who are free from depression. The independent association of stroke, other cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular risk factors with symptoms of apathy suggests a causal role of vascular factors
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-642
JournalArchives of general psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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