Neuropsychiatric Symptoms as Predictor of Poor Clinical Outcome in Patients With Vascular Cognitive Impairment

TRACE-VCI study group

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OBJECTIVE: Examine the association between neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) and clinical outcome in memory clinic patients with vascular brain injury.

DESIGN/SETTING: TRACE-VCI prospective memory clinic cohort with follow-up (2.1 ± 0.5 years).

PARTICIPANTS: Five hundred and seventy-five memory clinic patients with vascular brain injury on MRI (i.e. possible Vascular Cognitive Impairment [VCI]). Severity of cognitive impairment ranged from no objective cognitive impairment to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia.

MEASUREMENTS: We used Neuropsychiatric Inventory (total score and score on hyperactive, psychotic, affective, and apathetic behavior domains) to measure NPS. We assessed the association between NPS and institutionalization, mortality and cognitive deterioration (increase ≥0.5 on Clinical Dementia Rating scale) with Cox proportional hazards models and logistic regression analyses.

RESULTS: NPS were present in 89% of all patients, most commonly in the hyperactive and apathetic behavior domain. Across the whole cohort, affective behavior was associated with institutionalization (HR: 1.98 [1.01-3.87]), mainly driven by the dementia subgroup (HR: 2.06 [1.00-4.21]). Apathetic behavior was associated with mortality and cognitive deterioration (HR: 2.07 [1.10-3.90],OR: 1.67 [1.12-2.49], respectively), mainly driven by the MCI subgroup (HR: 4.93 [1.07-22.86],OR: 3.25 [1.46-7.24], respectively). Conversely, hyperactive behavior was related to lower mortality (HR: 0.54 [0.29-0.98]), again particularly driven by the MCI subgroup (HR:0.17 [0.04-0.75]). Psychotic behavior was associated with cognitive deterioration in patients with no objective cognitive impairment (OR: 3.10 [1.09-8.80]) and with institutionalization in MCI (HR: 12.45 [1.28-121.14]).

CONCLUSION: NPS are common and have prognostic value in memory clinic patients with possible VCI. This prognostic value depends on the severity of cognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)813-824
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number7
Early online date2 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Neuropsychiatric symptoms
  • cognitive deterioration
  • institutionalization
  • mortality
  • vascular cognitive impairment

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