New study findings suggest that Alzheimer’s might be triggered by stress. According to the research team from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, people living under high levels of stress are almost 30 percent more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI) than the rest of the population.
The research paper analyzing the findings has been published in Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders online journal on December 11.
Researchers have studied a population of more than 500 seniors over 70-years old from Bronx County, New York, over the course of five years. The senior men and women have participated in clinical tests meant to determine their level of stress and their cognition. For this, the researchers have used the Perceived Stress Scape (PSS), a psychological instrument commonly used to assess levels of stress.
At the beginning of the research, none of the subjects was diagnosed with a cognitive impairment but they all have had different levels of stress. Their cognitive and memory state of the 500 subject was measured every year.
Clinical studies have shown that in the course of three years, about 15 percent of the participants – 71 out of 507 – developed a mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Analyzing the direct correlation between stress level and MCI, the scientists have been able to determine that high stress levels increase the MCI risk with almost 30 percent.
MCI is a cognitive impairment which appears often among senior citizens, being characterized by unusual levels of memory loss. Dementia Care Central associates MCI with a higher risk of dementia, the broader umbrella of cognitive impairments which includes Alzheimer’s disease. According to DCC, sufferers of mild cognitive impairment are at a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s within five years after the MCI has installed.
Alzheimer’s is characterized as a progressive degenerative disease which affects the cognition and the memory of individuals. It is one of the leading causes of death in the United States for both women and men and the only one without a cure. More than 470,000 persons from the US are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every year.
Authors of the study claim that stress interferes with the levels of brain’s neurotransmitters, which makes the brain lose its efficiency. Besides affecting directly the brain, stress also harms the functioning of our immune system, which has also been linked to development of Alzheimer’s.
For reducing the levels of stress and maintaining our health, researchers recommend cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga, meditation and sleep. The latter is believed to be the most effective.
Image source: pixabay
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