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Stress puts oldies at Alzheimer’s risk

Maria Rosa, 70, a patient with Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, and former business administrator, poses for a photograph inside the Alzheimer Foundation in Mexico city, April 19, 2012. Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative disease that robs people of memory, reasoning and the ability to communicate. About 24 million people worldwide have the disease, according to the World Health Organization. In Mexico, 600,000 Mexicans out of 9 million adults over the age 60 suffer from Alzheimer's, according to the Institute of Geriatrics (INGER). Picture taken April 19, 2012. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido (MEXICO - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY)
Maria Rosa, 70, a patient with Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, and former business administrator, poses for a photograph inside the Alzheimer Foundation in Mexico city, April 19, 2012. Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative disease that robs people of memory, reasoning and the ability to communicate. About 24 million people worldwide have the disease, according to the World Health Organization. In Mexico, 600,000 Mexicans out of 9 million adults over the age 60 suffer from Alzheimer's, according to the Institute of Geriatrics (INGER). Picture taken April 19, 2012. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido (MEXICO - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY)

Washington: Ongoing stress has been linked to an array of health problems and now, researchers are blaming it for a type of memory decline in older people that’s often a prelude to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease.

In a new study, scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System found that highly stressed participants were more than twice as likely to become impaired than those who were not.

Because stress is treatable, the results suggest that detecting and treating stress in older people might help delay or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. The findings were published online today in Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders.

This study looked at the connection between chronic stress and “amnestic mild cognitive impairment” (aMCI), the most common type of MCI, which is primarily characterized by memory loss.

The study provides strong evidence that perceived stress increases the likelihood that an older person will develop aMCI, said senior author Richard Lipton. “Fortunately, perceived stress is a modifiable risk factor for cognitive impairment, making it a potential target for treatment.”

The study appears in Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders. (ANI)