Memory slips may signal dementia

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People without dementia who report memory issues may be more likely to develop dementia later, even if they have no clinical signs of the disease., according to a study published today (Wednesday 24 September) in the online issue of Neurology.

 

The study looked at 531 people with an average age of 73 and free of dementia. They were asked yearly if they noticed any changes in their memory and given annual memory and thinking tests for an average of 10 years. After death, 243 of the participants’ brains were examined for evidence of Alzheimer’s disease

 

The study found:

 

·     About one in six participants developed dementia during the study, and 80 percent of those first reported memory changes

 

·     56% of the participants reported changes in their memory, at an average age of 82

 

Alzheimer’s Society comment:

 

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

 

‘We already know that changes are likely to happen in the brain years before any symptoms of dementia present themselves. This research suggests that perceived memory problems could be a good way to identify people early on in the course of the condition. Older people who report memory problems to their relatives or GPs should be taken seriously and have their ability to recall memories monitored.

 

‘Whilst people who experience memory decline may be at greater risk of dementia, in many cases this comes with age and is not necessarily a cause for concern. Those whose memory gets noticeably worse, or begins to affect everyday life, should visit their GP for a check-up.’

 

Research reference: Kryscio, Richard J. et al, Self-reported memory complaints: Implications from a longitudinal cohort with autopsies, Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology Wednesday 24 September 2014.

 

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