The relationship between mortality and impaired cognitive function has not been thoroughly investigated in a very elderly community-dwelling population, and little is known about the association of disease-specific mortality with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) subscale scores. Here we evaluated these data in Japanese community-dwelling elderly. In 2003, 85 year-olds (n=207) were enrolled; 205 completed the MMSE for cognitive function and were followed-up for 10 years, during which time 120 participants died, 70 survived, and 17 were lost to follow-up. Thirty-eight deaths were due to cardiovascular disease, 22 to senility, 21 to respiratory disease, and 16 to cancer. All-cause mortality decreased by 4.3% with a 1-point increase in the global MMSE score without adjustment, and it decreased by 6.3% with adjustment for both sex and length of education. Cardiovascular mortality decreased by 7.6% and senility mortality decreased by 9.2% with a 1-point increase in the global MMSE score with adjustment for sex and education. No association was found between respiratory diseases or cancer mortality and global MMSE score. All-cause mortality also decreased with increases in MMSE subscale scores for time orientation, place orientation, delayed recall, naming objects, and listening and obeying. Cardiovascular mortality was also associated with the MMSE subscale of naming objects, and senility mortality was associated with the subscales of time orientation and place orientation. Thus, we found that impaired cognitive function determined by global MMSE score and some MMSE subscale scores were independent predictors of all-cause mortality or mortality due to cardiovascular disease or senility in 85 year-olds.
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