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Being unaware of memory problems boosts your Alzheimer's disease risk

by , 16 October 2017
Being unaware of memory problems boosts your Alzheimer's disease risk
It's well-known that memory loss is a typical symptom of Alzheimer's disease. That being said, memory loss doesn't necessarily mean that you'll develop dementia.

A new study conducted by researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has revealed a clinically useful way to predict if you will or won't develop Alzheimer's disease based on your awareness of memory problems.

Keep reading for the full scoop on this interesting study…

Researchers set out to find out which parts of the brain were affected by impaired illness awareness…

The researchers behind the study looked at data on 1,062 people between ages 55 and 90 from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). This included 191 people with Alzheimer’s disease, 499 with mild cognitive impairment and 372 as part of the healthy comparison group.
 
The researchers wanted to find out which parts of the brain were affected by impaired illness awareness. To do this, they looked at the brain’s uptake of a type of sugar known as glucose using PET brain scans. Brain cells need glucose to function properly, but glucose uptake is impaired in Alzheimer’s disease.

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Their study linked memory problems to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease

The researchers found that those with impaired illness awareness also had reduced glucose uptake in certain brain regions. This didn’t change when they accounted for other factors tied to educed glucose uptake, such as degree of memory loss and age.
 
The team concluded that people who were unaware of their memory loss were more likely to progress to Alzheimer’s disease, while those who were unaware of memory problems were unlikely to develop the brain disorder. They published their findings in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
 
“If patients complain of memory problems, but their partner or caregiver isn’t overly concerned, it’s likely that the memory loss is due to other factors, possibly depression or anxiety,” explained Dr Philip Gerretsen, lead author of the study and clinical scientist in CAMH’s Geriatric Division and Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute. “They can be reassured that they’re unlikely to develop dementia, and other causes of memory loss should be addressed.”
 
However, if your partner or caregiver is concerned about your memory problems, you should consult your doctor to rule out the possibility of Alzheimer’s disease.

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