Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and the Montefiore Health System have revealed that high levels of stress in older people may cause Alzheimer’s disease. According to researchers, highly stressed participants are twice more likely to become mildly impaired cognitively compared to those who were not highly stressed. High stress levels in older people may be the cause of cognitive impairment, which is often the root of Alzheimer’s disease.
Mr. Richard Lipton, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System, said “Fortunately, perceived stress is a modifiable risk factor for cognitive impairment, making it a potential target for treatment”. In the study published online via the journal Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders, researchers reported that older people with constant exposure to severe amount of stress are twice more likely to experience Alzheimer’s disease in their later life.
According to statistical figures released by the Alzheimer’s Association, about 5.3 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, which is expected to reach till 7.1 million in 2025 and 13.8 million in 2050. Overall, Alzheimer’s account for between 60% and 80% of dementia cases in the U.S. During the 3.6 year study, based on 507 people enrolled in the Einstein Aging Study, researchers tracked stress levels of participants using the Perceived Stress Scale. About 71 participants were diagnosed with amnestic mild cognitive impairment, a condition characterized by memory loss. They even found 30% increased risk of cognitive impairment for every 5 points a person scored under the scale.
Though there exist no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, early detection and management of stress in older people can even delay or prevent full-blown disease. Older people have even been advised to follow mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive-behavioral therapies and stress-reducing drugs in order to reduce their stress levels. Scientists believe that following such practices may postpone or even prevent an individual’s cognitive decline.