Aging with multiple sclerosis: prevalence and profile of cognitive impairment

Mariana Branco, Luis Ruano, Emilio Portaccio, Benedetta Goretti, Claudia Niccolai, Francesco Patti, Clara Chisari, Paolo Gallo, Paola Grossi, Angelo Ghezzi, Marco Roscio, Flavia Mattioli, Fabio Bellomi, Marta Simone, Rosa Gemma Viterbo, Maria Pia Amato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The increase in life expectancy of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) requires a better knowledge of disease features in the older patients group. Objective: To describe the prevalence and profile of cognitive impairment (CI) in older patients with MS and perform a comparison with younger patients. Methods: Patients were consecutively recruited for 6 months. Cognitive performance was assessed through the Brief Repeatable Battery and the Stroop Test. CI was defined as impairment in ≥ 2 cognitive domains. Results: We identified 111 patients older than 55 years (mean age 59.7 years). The prevalence of CI was 77.4%, which was significantly higher than in younger patients (42.8%; p < 0.01). Information processing speed was the most impaired domain (68.8%), followed by verbal learning (49.5%), executive function (47.7%), and visuospatial learning (26.6%). We found no significant differences in the prevalence of impairment in the distinct cognitive domains between older and younger patients with CI. Depression and fatigue were not associated with increased CI among patients in the older age group (p > 0.70). Conclusion: There is a remarkably high frequency of CI in older patients with MS. The similar profile of CI between older and younger patients suggests that CI is mostly directly related to MS itself and not to comorbid age-related disorders.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Aging
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Epidemiology
  • Multiple sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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