Memory Slips in Senior Years May Signal Dementia Risk

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Memory Slips in Senior Years May Signal Dementia Risk
Memory Slips in Senior Years May Signal Dementia Risk

(HealthDay News) — Healthy elderly people who begin reporting memory lapses are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with dementia roughly a decade later, according to a study published online September 24 in Neurology.

Richard Kryscio, PhD, from the University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging in Lexington, and colleagues asked more than 500 seniors annually about any noticeable changes in their memory, and took memory and thinking tests, for an average of 10 years. After death, 243 participants' brains were examined for evidence of Alzheimer's disease during autopsies.

The researchers found that nearly 56% of participants reported memory lapses overall, at an average age of 82. People carrying the APOE ε4 allele had double the odds of experiencing brain impairment. Smokers complaining of memory problems took less time to transition to mild cognitive impairment. In addition, the researchers found that those with memory complaints were almost three times more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment within nine years. Additionally, 80% were diagnosed with dementia within 12 years.

Kryscio told HealthDay that he was mildly surprised to see how many years it took for dementia to set in among those experiencing earlier memory lapses. This extended period potentially offers time to prevent further problems from developing, he noted.

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