Swallowing impairment in older adults: association with sensorimotor peripheral nerve function from the Health, Aging and Body Composition study

Rafaela Soares Rech, Elsa S. Strotmeyer, Brittney S. Lange-Maia, Fernando Neves Hugo, Bárbara Niegia Garcia de Goulart, Juliana Balbinot Hilgert, Eleanor M. Simonsick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: The purpose of this study was to examine whether impairments in sensorimotor peripheral nerve function are associated with a higher likelihood of swallowing impairment in older adults. Methods: Health, Aging and Body Composition participants (n = 607, age = 75.8 ± 2.7 years, 55.8% women, 32.3% black) underwent peripheral nerve testing at Year 4 and 11 with swallowing difficulty assessed at Year 4 and 15. Nerve conduction amplitude and velocity were measured at the peroneal motor nerve. Sensory nerve function was assessed with the vibration detection threshold and monofilament (1.4-g/10-g) testing at the big toe. Symptoms of lower extremity peripheral neuropathy and difficulty swallowing were collected by self-report. Data analysis was performed using a hierarchical approach. Odds ratios (ORs) were estimated using non-conditional logistic regression. Results: At Year 15 108 (17.8%) participants had swallowing impairments. In fully adjusted models, the peripheral nerve impairments associated with swallowing impairment were numbness (OR 4.67; 95%CI 2.24–9.75) and poor motor nerve conduction velocity (OR 2.26; 95%CI 1.08–4.70). Other peripheral nerve impairments were not related to swallowing. Conclusions: The association between slow motor nerve conduction velocity and numbness and a higher likelihood of swallowing difficulties a decade later in our prospective study identifies an important area for further investigation in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAging Clinical and Experimental Research
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Deglutition disorders
  • Older adults
  • Peripheral nerves
  • Swallowing
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Swallowing disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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