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New Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s

A new study discovers a link between physical frailty and Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers discovered frailty can be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease pathology and may predict Alzheimer’s before the classical symptom of memory loss.

The research is found in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Scientists examined the brains of 165 people who had been participants in a larger community study of chronic diseases of aging.

While participants were alive, physical frailty measurements were taken yearly including grip strength, time to walk eight feet, body composition and tiredness.

After death, the brains of these participants were checked for the plaques and tangles that are signs of Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

Of the participants in the study, 36 percent of the group had dementia, or showed signs of memory loss.

“Interestingly, Alzheimer’s disease pathology was associated with physical frailty in older persons both with and without dementia,” said study author Aron S. Buchman, MD, with Rush University Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago and member of the American Academy of Neurology.

“The level of frailty was approximately two times higher in a person with a high level of AD pathology compared with a person with a low level of AD pathology,” said Buchman. The results remained the same regardless of whether a person had a history of other diseases and regardless of their level of physical activity.

A previous study of the same group of participants while they were alive suggested that older people who are physically frail with no cognitive impairment appear to be at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as compared to those who were less frail.

“Together both of these studies suggest that frailty can be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease pathology and may appear before memory loss.”

“These findings raise the possibility that Alzheimer’s disease may contribute to frailty or that frailty and Alzheimer’s disease share a common cause. We theorize that the accumulation of these plaques and tangles in the brain could affect the areas of the brain responsible for motor skills and simple movements years before the development of dementia,” Buchman said.

Studies show that about seven percent of people over age 65 are considered frail; that number jumps to 45 percent after age 85.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

New Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). New Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 15, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/08/13/physically-frailty-is-risk-factor-for-alzheimers/2741.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.