New Evidence that Stress May Increase the Risk of Developing Dementia and Alzheimer’s: the Einstein Aging Study

dementia and Alzheimer's

According to a recent report published in the journal Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders stress may increase up to 30% the risk of developing amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) or dementia.

Mild cognitive impairment is a significant risk factor for the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, among all MCI subtypes, patients with amnestic MCI are at greatest risk (A Levey et al., Clin Ther, 2006, 28:991).

Of note, MCI is now considered an intermediate clinical and neuropathological state between the cognitive changes of aging and the very earliest features of Alzheimer’s disease (Ronald C. Petersen, Curr Alzheimer Res, 2009, 6: 324).

Previous research indicates that stress is linked to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and that a higher number of psychosocial stressors, particularly in middle-aged women are associated with increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

In the Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders study, a research group from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY and the Pennsylvania State University, PA assessed 507 participants (≥ 70 yrs old) enrolled in the Einstein Aging Study (EAS). All subjects were free of aMCI and dementia at baseline. Stress was assessed using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS).

The authors report that the stress level correlated with the participants’ risk for developing aMCI. Subjects in the highest-stress quintile had an almost 2.5-times greater risk of developing aMCI as compared to those in the remaining four quintiles combined.

Interestingly, the study’s participants in the high-stress group were more likely to be female with higher levels of depression, but depression did not appear to interfere with the effect of stress on aMCI.

Source: Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2015 Dec 10.

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