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Alzheimer’s Starts Early

July 2, 2015

It has long been believed that Alzheimer’s Disease starts in your brain years before the symptoms become apparent and a diagnosis is made.   A recent study suggests it takes root at least 20 years before traditional diagnosis, and that you may get an indication through your performance on thinking and memory tests.

Closeup of a happy old man on the wheel chair with a nurse

Scientists in the journal Neurology tracked over 2000 people for 18 years.  The participants were European-American and African-American.  None were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when the study began.  During the course of the study, roughly 20% of the individuals developed Alzheimer’s.  The researchers noted that people scoring lowest on memory and thinking tests during the first year of the study were 10 times more likely to develop the disease.

While this result does not give doctors the ability to detect who is at risk, it confirms what professionals have suspected and strengthens the focus of new research efforts.  If you develop Alzheimer’s, your brain will experience certain physical and biological changes that long precede the obvious cognitive decline.  The key to preventing the disease lies in understanding the processes before we get old.

 

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