OBJECTIVES: Understated executive dysfunction (UED) is predictive of cognitive decline and death. We aimed to assess the prevalence of UED, assessed with the clock-drawing test (CDT) and the Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB) in middle-aged adults and to investigate associated characteristics.
METHODS: Cross-sectional analysis of data on 516 community-dwellers aged 50-65, lacking cognitive complaints, who were included prospectively (2010-2017) after a multidimensional geriatric assessment at a "healthy ageing" outpatient clinic. Age- and educational-level-adjusted logistic models were used to assess factors associated with UED.
RESULTS: The CDT and FAB were impaired in 27.7% and 14.7% of the participants (median age: 59.7 years). The prevalence [95% confidence interval (CI)] of UED was 36.2% [32.2-40.5%]. After adjustment for age and education, participants with UED were more likely to be obese (odds ratio [95%CI] = 1.89 [1.12-3.19], = 0.02), and to have a metabolic syndrome (1.98 [1.06-3.72], = 0.03).
CONCLUSION: More than one third of middle-aged adults without cognitive complaints have UED, which was linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome. Cognitive screening tests targeting executive functions might be useful for early detection of UED and the initiation of multidomain interventions improving cognitive performance.