Send to

Choose Destination
Ann Neurol. 2015 Sep;78(3):401-11. doi: 10.1002/ana.24447. Epub 2015 Jul 3.

Olfactory identification deficits and increased mortality in the community.

Author information

Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, NY.
Division of Biostatistics, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, New York, NY.
Department of Neurology, Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, and Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY.
Smell and Taste Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.



To examine the association between odor identification deficits and future mortality in a multiethnic community cohort of older adults.


Participants were evaluated with the 40-item University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT). Follow-up occurred at 2-year intervals with information on death obtained from informant interviews and the National Death Index.


During follow-up (mean = 4.1 years, standard deviation = 2.6), 349 of 1,169 (29.9%) participants died. Participants who died were more likely to be older (p < 0.001), be male (p < 0.001), have lower UPSIT scores (p < 0.001), and have a diagnosis of dementia (p < 0.001). In a Cox model, the association between lower UPSIT score and mortality (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.07 per point interval, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.05-1.08, p < 0.001) persisted after controlling for age, gender, education, ethnicity, language, modified Charlson medical comorbidity index, dementia, depression, alcohol abuse, head injury, smoking, body mass index, and vision and hearing impairment (HR = 1.05, 95% CI = 1.03-1.07, p < 0.001). Compared to the fourth quartile with the highest UPSIT scores, HRs for mortality for the first, second, and third quartiles of UPSIT scores were 3.81 (95% CI = 2.71-5.34), 1.75 (95% CI = 1.23-2.50), and 1.58 (95% CI = 1.09-2.30), respectively. Participant mortality rate was 45% in the lowest quartile of UPSIT scores (anosmia) and 18% in the highest quartile of UPSIT scores.


Impaired odor identification, particularly in the anosmic range, is associated with increased mortality in older adults even after controlling for dementia and medical comorbidity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center