Original Communication

Journal of Neurology

, Volume 260, Issue 3, pp 884-890

White matter hyperintensity volume and impaired mobility among older adults

  • Joshua Z. WilleyAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University
  • , Nikolaos ScarmeasAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia UniversityTaub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, PS Box 16, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia UniversityGertrude H. Sergievsky Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University
  • , Frank A. ProvenzanoAffiliated withTaub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, PS Box 16, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University
  • , José A. LuchsingerAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia UniversityDepartment of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
  • , Richard MayeuxAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia UniversityTaub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, PS Box 16, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia UniversityGertrude H. Sergievsky Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia UniversityDepartment of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia UniversityDepartment of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University
  • , Adam M. BrickmanAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia UniversityTaub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, PS Box 16, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia UniversityGertrude H. Sergievsky Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Email author 

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Abstract

Gait speed is associated with multiple adverse outcomes of aging. White matter hyperintensities (WMH) on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been associated with gait speed, though few studies have examined changes in gait speed over time in population-based studies comprising participants from diverse cultural backgrounds. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between a decline in gait speed and total and regional WMH volumes in a community-based study of aging. Participants (n = 701) underwent gait-speed measurement via a 4-m walk test at the time of initial enrollment and MRI at a second time interval (mean 4.7 [SD = 0.5] years apart). Logistic regression was used to examine the association between large WMH volume and regional WMH volume with gait speed <0.5 m/s (abnormal speed), and a transition to abnormal gait speed. Analyses were adjusted for demographic and clinical factors. Large WMH volume was associated with abnormal gait speed and a transition to abnormal gait speed between the two visits, but not after adjustment for modifiable vascular disease risk factors. Increased frontal lobe WMH volume was associated with abnormal gait speed and transition to abnormal gait speed, but not in adjusted models. WMH are associated with slowing of gait over time. Prevention of WMH presents a potential strategy for the prevention of gait speed decline.

Keywords

Gait speed White matter hyperintensities Aging