AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 1, 2017

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Stress in Older People Increases Risk for Pre-Alzheimer’s Condition

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A study published in the journal Alzheimer’s Disease & Associated Disorders found that elderly people who regularly feel stressed out have an increased likelihood that they will develop mild cognitive impairment. Of the approximate 470,000 Americans who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease each year, many will first experience mild cognitive impairment — a pre-dementia condition that significantly increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The study looked at the connection between chronic stress and “amnestic mild cognitive impairment,” or aMCI. “Our study provides strong evidence that perceived stress increases the likelihood that an older person will develop aMCI,” said the senior author of the study. “Fortunately, perceived stress is a modifiable risk factor for cognitive impairment, making it a potential target for treatment.” The diagnosis of aMCI was based on standardized clinical criteria including the results of recall tests and reports of forgetfulness from the participants or from others. All 507 participants were free of aMCI or dementia at their initial assessment and subsequently underwent at least one annual follow-up evaluation. They were followed for an average of 3.6 years, and 71 of the 507 participants were diagnosed with aMCI during the study. The greater the participants’ stress level, the greater their risk for developing aMCI — results of the study showed that for every five-point increase in their scores, the risk of developing aMCI increased by 30 percent. To read more about this study, click here.

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