Intact global cognitive and olfactory ability predicts lack of transition to dementia

INTRODUCTION: Odor identification deficits characterize Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. We examined if intact performance on brief cognitive and odor identification tests predicts lack of transition to dementia.
METHODS: In an urban community, 1037 older adults without dementia completed the 40-item University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test, which includes the 12-item Brief Smell Identification Test (B-SIT). Data from 749 participants followed up for 4 years were analyzed.
RESULTS: In covariate-adjusted survival analyses, impairment on the Blessed Orientation Memory Concentration Test and B-SIT each predicted dementia (n = 109), primarily Alzheimer’s disease (n = 101). Among participants with intact olfactory (B-SIT ≥ 11/12 correct) and cognitive (Blessed Orientation Memory Concentration Test ≤ 5/28 incorrect) ability, 3.4% (4/117) transitioned to dementia during follow-up with no transitions in the 70-75 and 81-83 years age group quartiles.
DISCUSSION: Odor identification testing adds value to global cognitive testing, and together can identify individuals who rarely transition to dementia, thereby avoiding unnecessary diagnostic investigation.