School of Medicine Publications and Presentations

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Neuropsychiatric symptoms play an important role in diagnosing and clinical follow-up of cognitive impairment and dementia.


We investigated the relationship between neuropsychiatric symptoms, cognitive impairment, and dementia in Hispanics.


We included 529 participants (age ≥40 years) from the Maracaibo Aging Study with standardized neuropsychiatric assessments, including the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI). Based on the Clinical Dementia Rating and the Mini-Mental State Examination scores, participants’ cognitive status was categorized into normal cognition, mild/moderate, and severe cognitive impairment. Diagnosis of dementia was established in a consensus conference. Statistical analyses included multivariable logistic regression models and area under the curve (AUC).


The mean age of participants was 59.3 years, and 71.8% were women. The proportion of dementia was 6.8%. Disturbed sleep, anxiety, and depression were the most common neuropsychiatric symptoms in the study sample. In crude analyses, the proportions of hallucinations, aberrant motor behavior, agitation/aggression, apathy, delusions, irritability, eating disturbance, depression, and euphoria were differently distributed among cognitive status groups (p < 0.05). After accounting for confounders, aberrant motor behavior and agitation/aggression remained significantly associated with cognitive impairment and dementia (p < 0.05). The inclusion of the NPI domains significantly improved the AUC to discriminate severe cognitive impairment and dementia above of a basic model that included sex, age, education, alcohol, obesity, serum glucose, total cholesterol, hypertension, and stroke.


Neuropsychiatric symptoms are associated with severe cognitive impairment and dementia. The addition of NPI items to the global cognitive assessment might help early detection of dementia in primary care settings.


Original published version available at

Publication Title

Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD



Academic Level


Mentor/PI Department

Office of Human Genetics

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Diseases Commons



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