BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is insensitive to mild cognitive impairment and executive function. The more recently developed Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), an alternative, brief 30-point global cognitive screen, might pick up more cognitive abnormalities in patients with cerebrovascular disease. METHODS: In a population-based study (Oxford Vascular Study) of transient ischemic attack and stroke, the MMSE and MoCA were administered to consecutive patients at 6-month or 5-year follow-up. Accepted cutoffs of MMSE <27 and MoCA <26 were taken to indicate cognitive impairment. RESULTS: Of 493 patients, 413 (84%) were testable. Untestable patients were older (75.5 versus 69.9 years, P<0.001) and often had dysphasia (24%) or dementia (15%). Although MMSE and MoCA scores were highly correlated (r(2)=0.80, P<0.001), MMSE scores were skewed toward higher values, whereas MoCA scores were normally distributed: median and interquartile range 28 (26 to 29) and 23 (20 to 26), respectively. Two hundred ninety-one of 413 (70%) patients had MoCA <26 of whom 162 had MMSE > or =27, whereas only 5 patients had MoCA > or =26 and MMSE <27 (P<0.0001). In patients with MMSE > or =27, MoCA <26 was associated with higher Rankin scores (P=0.0003) and deficits in delayed recall, abstraction, visuospatial/executive function, and sustained attention. CONCLUSIONS: The MoCA picked up substantially more cognitive abnormalities after transient ischemic attack and stroke than the MMSE, demonstrating deficits in executive function, attention, and delayed recall.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1290 - 1293


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Aphasia, Attention, Brain Ischemia, Cognition, Dementia, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Stroke