Homocysteine Linked to Poor Motor Function in Elderly

Mean maximum walking speed falls as homocysteine levels rise

THURSDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Elevated blood levels of homocysteine are associated with poor motor function in the elderly, including a reduction in walking speed and a greater risk of problems with gait and balance, researchers report in the Sept. 26 issue of Neurology.

Alexis Elbaz, M.D., Ph.D., of INSERM, the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris in France, and colleagues compared mobility and fasting blood homocysteine levels in 3,609 subjects aged 65 to 85, who were enrolled in a three-city study in Dijon, Bordeaux and Montpellier.

The researchers found that mean maximum walking speed fell as homocysteine levels rose. Elderly participants with homocysteine levels in the highest quintile were 1.9 times more likely to have a maximum walking speed below the 40th percentile than those with homocysteine levels in the lowest quintile.

In addition, participants in the highest quintile were 1.9 times as likely to have a score below 16 on a modified scale used to measure gait and balance as those in the lowest quintile, the researchers report.

"Elevated homocysteine concentrations are associated with worse motor performances in the elderly," the authors write. "These findings support the hypothesis of a vascular contribution to motor function."

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