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Frailty and cognitive decline

how do they relate?

Canevelli, Marcoa,b; Cesari, Matteob,c,d; van Kan, Gabor Abellanb,c

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: January 2015 - Volume 18 - Issue 1 - p 43–50
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000133
AGEING: BIOLOGY AND NUTRITION: Edited by Tommy Cederholm and John E. Morley

Purpose of review To provide a comprehensive review of the recent literature (published over the last 12 months) exploring the relationship between frailty and cognition.

Recent findings Fourteen studies were retained for the present review. No randomized controlled trial was found. Overall, the main findings of the selected studies appeared to be mainly confirmatory of the previous evidence. In longitudinal studies, physical frailty was found to predict the incidence of cognitive impairment and dementia. Cross-sectional studies showed that frail individuals have lower cognitive performance compared with nonfrail persons. Interestingly, few studies examined the association between frailty and specific cognitive functions and domains, reporting a significant impairment of attention and executive functions Finally, we found several studies including cognitive measures in the operational definitions of frailty.

Summary The present findings are suggestive of an almost complete lack of evidence on the addressed topic. In particular, randomized controlled trials are strongly needed in order to gain insights about the possibility of positively affecting the frailty syndrome by acting of cognition and improving cognitive impairment by targeting the physical components of frailty. Moreover, these studies may produce the first evidences about the novel concept of ‘cognitive frailty’ and its potential for reversibility.

aDepartment of Neurology and Psychiatry, Memory Clinic, ‘Sapienza’ University, Rome, Italy

bGérontopôle, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse

cInserm UMR1027

dUniversité de Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France

Correspondence to Dr Marco Canevelli, Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Memory Clinic, ‘Sapienza’ University, Viale dell’Università 30, 00185 Rome, Italy. Tel: +39 6 49914604; fax: +39 6 49914604; e-mail:

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