Tremor severity and age: A cross-sectional, population-based study of 2,524 young and midlife normal adults§

Authors

  • Elan D. Louis MD, MS,

    Corresponding author
    1. GH Sergievsky Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
    2. Department of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
    3. Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
    4. Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
    • Unit 198, Neurological Institute, 710 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA
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  • Danella Hafeman MD, PhD,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
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  • Faruque Parvez MS, MPH,

    1. Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
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  • Xinhua Liu PhD,

    1. Department of Biostatistics, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
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  • Roy N. Alcalay MD, MS,

    1. Department of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
    2. Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
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  • Tariqul Islam MBBS, MPH,

    1. Columbia University/University of Chicago Arsenic Research Office in Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
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  • Alauddin Ahmed MBBS, MPH,

    1. Columbia University/University of Chicago Arsenic Research Office in Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
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  • Abu Bakar Siddique MBBS, MPH,

    1. Columbia University/University of Chicago Arsenic Research Office in Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
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  • Tazul Islam Patwary MCom, MPH,

    1. Columbia University/University of Chicago Arsenic Research Office in Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
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  • Stephanie Melkonian BS,

    1. Departments of Health Studies, Medicine and Human Genetics and Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
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  • Maria Argos MPH,

    1. Departments of Health Studies, Medicine and Human Genetics and Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
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  • Diane Levy MS,

    1. Department of Biostatistics, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
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  • Habibul Ahsan MD

    1. Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
    2. Departments of Health Studies, Medicine and Human Genetics and Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
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  • Relevant conflicts of interest/financial disclosures: Nothing to report.

  • This research was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants R01 NS39422, P30 ES09089, P42 ES10349, and R01 CA102484.

  • §

    Full financial disclosures and author roles may be found in the online version of this article.

Abstract

Mild action tremor occurs in most normal people. Yet this tremor mainly has been studied within the context of advanced age rather than among the vast bulk of adults who are not elderly. Whether this tremor worsens during young and middle age is unknown. Using cross-sectional data from a large population-based study of young and midlife normal adults (age range, 18–60 years), we assessed whether increasing age is associated with more severe action tremor. Two thousand five hundred and twenty-four adults in Araihazar, Bangladesh, drew an Archimedes spiral with each hand. Tremor in spirals was rated (0–3) by a blinded neurologist, and a spiral score (range, 0–6) was assigned. Spiral score was correlated with age (r = 0.06, P = .004). With each advancing decade, the spiral score increased (P = .002) so that the spiral score in participants in the highest age group (age 60) was approximately twice that of participants in the youngest age group (age 18–19); P = .003. In the regression model that adjusted for potential confounders (sex, cigarettes, medications, asthma inhalers, and tea and betel nut use), spiral score was associated with age (P = .0045). In this cross-sectional, population-based study of more than 2500 young and midlife normal adults, there was a clear association between age and tremor severity. Although the magnitude of the correlation coefficient was modest, tremor severity was higher with each passing decade. These data suggest that age-dependent increase in tremor amplitude is not restricted to older people but occurs in all adult age groups. © 2011 Movement Disorder Society

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