Role of stress in dementia probed
The role stress may play in causing dementia is being investigated in a new research project funded by the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK.
The study, being led by Clive Holmes at the University of Southampton, will monitor 140 people aged over 50 with mild cognitive impairment (such as memory loss) during an 18-month period.
The participants will be assessed for levels of stress and any progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia.
About 60 per cent of people with mild cognitive impairment are known to go on to develop Alzheimer’s.
Prof. Holmes said: “All of us go through stressful events. We are looking to understand how these may become a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s.
“Something such as bereavement or a traumatic experience − possibly even moving home − is also a potential factor.
“This is the first stage in developing ways in which to intervene with psychological or drug-based treatments to fight the disease.
“We are looking at two aspects of stress relief − physical and psychological − and the body’s response to that experience.”
The study will look at the role chronic stress plays in the progression from mild thinking and memory problems to Alzheimer’s.
“The results could offer clues to new treatments or better ways of managing the condition,” said Anne Corbett, Alzheimer’s Society research manager .
“It will also be valuable to understand how different ways of coping with stressful life events could influence the risk of developing Alzheimer’s .”