Researchers have linked anxiety to the rapid onset of Alzheimer’s.


We don't yet know if anxiety is a symptom or contributes to cognitive decline.

We don’t yet know if anxiety is a symptom or contributes to cognitive decline.

Anxiety is associated with a higher rate of progression of mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Alzheimer’s disease is a major public health crisis worldwide. IN the number of deaths from this disease has doubled since 2000 and is now the fifth leading cause of death among people over 65 in the United States.

Many people with first Alzheimer’s have mild cognitive impairment, decreased cognitive ability for example, memory and thinking skills that develop faster than are usually associated with aging. Anxiety is commonly seen in patients with mild cognitive impairment, although its role in disease progression is not fully understood.

“We know that loss of volume in certain areas of the brain is a predictor of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. In this study we wanted to know if anxiety affects brain structureor if the effects of anxiety were not dependent on brain structure to promote disease progression, ”explains lead author Maria Vittoria Spampinato, professor of radiology at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, USA. United).

The study group included 339 patients with an average age of 72 years from the Neuroimaging cohort of Alzheimer’s disease 2. Each person had a baseline diagnosis of moderate cognitive impairment; 72 people progressed to Alzheimer’s disease and 267 remained stable.

The researchers performed an MRI scan of the brain to determine the baseline volumes of the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, two important areas for memory formation. They also tested for the APOE4 allele, the most common genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Anxiety was measured by established clinical studies.

As expected, patients with progressive Alzheimer’s disease had significantly lower volumes in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex and a higher frequency of the APOE4 allele. Most notably, however, the researchers found that anxiety was independently associated with cognitive decline

“Patients with mild cognitive impairment with symptoms of anxiety developed Alzheimer’s disease faster than people without anxiety, regardless of whether they had a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease or loss of brain volume,” explains the study’s first author, Jenny L. Ulber.

According to the researchers, the relationship between anxiety symptoms and faster progression of Alzheimer’s disease offers an opportunity to improve the assessment and treatment of patients with early mild cognitive impairment.

“We need to better understand the link between anxiety disorders and cognitive decline. We still don’t know if anxiety is a symptom. – in other words, their memory deteriorates and they become anxious – or if anxiety contributes to cognitive decline. If, in the future, we can find that anxiety does cause progression, then we should more aggressively address anxiety disorders in older people, ”concludes Spampinato.

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