Original Study| Volume 19, ISSUE 9, P770-774, September 2018

Oropharyngeal Dysphagia in Community-Dwelling Older Patients with Dementia: Prevalence and Relationship with Geriatric Parameters



      To define the prevalence of oropharyngeal dysphagia (OD) in community-dwelling older persons with dementia, using V-VST (Volume-Viscosity Swallow Test), the reference clinical screening test for swallowing disorders, to assess the feasibility of the V-VST in an ambulatory care setting, to search for associations between geriatric parameters and OD, and to identify a relationship between severities of cognitive impairment and OD.


      Prospective, monocentric study.


      Population from a geriatric outpatients clinic.


      Patients older than 70 with a diagnosis of dementia (NINCDS-ADRDA criteria), effective cough, and ability of voluntary swallowing for testing.


      OD screening was realized using V-VST during consultation. Severity of cognitive impairment was estimated by the MMSE and severity of OD by the Dysphagia Outcome Severity Scale (DOSS). Six geriatric domains were evaluated (comorbidities, functional abilities, cognition, nutrition, mood disorders, frailty).


      117 patients participated in the study (77 women, mean age = 84.5 ± 5.1 years). Prevalence of OD was 86.6%. Among the 97 patients with OD, 3 (3.1%) had only safety impairment, 52 (53.6%) had only efficacy impairment and 42 (43.3%) had both. The mean time necessary to realize V-VST was 8.7 ± 2.7 minutes with a rate of success of 96%. Dependency was independently associated with OD [odds ratio (OR) 4.8; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.5-15.9; P < .05], and age and grip strength were associated with safety impairment (OR 1.1; 95% CI 1.0-1.2 and OR 1.9; 95% CI 1.2-3.2 respectively; both P < .05). No significant relationship was found between severity of OD and severity of cognitive impairment.


      OD is very frequent in community-dwelling older persons with dementia and is associated with dependency and frailty. The V-VST is an easy-to-perform and well tolerated screening test in this population and therefore should be systematically included in the geriatric assessment of older persons with dementia. The role of V-VST in therapeutic strategies of OD remains to be evaluated.


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