Beacon Transcript – As researchers are trying to better understand the factors that influence or that may cause Alzheimer’s Disease, a new study revealed that loneliness and depression may be contributing factors to the disease.
The new study was undertaken by an associated team of scientists from the Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The research was based on data gathered from 79 adults, all cognitively healthy at the beginning of the study. As the researchers measured their levels of cortical amyloids, they also established a loneliness scale.
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia, with almost 70 percent of the registered cases developing AD. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease whose symptoms and effects usually advance with the passing of time.
As the initial steps of the disease see a degeneration in the patient’s ability to remember recent events, its advancement may lead to even more serious issues.
Amongst them, scientists include a loss of motivation, language and general memory problems, behavioral issues, and may lead to a sufferer debilitation as they may be unable to take care of themselves, and may also lead to death.
The causes of Alzheimer’s Disease are as yet unknown, with genetics being thought to be the most important factor according to researchers.
However, a number of other factors have been shown to influence the appearance of AD, with loneliness and depression having been recently included in the list.
Amongst these factors, scientists also include inadequate nutrition, the lack of mental and memory exercises, and severe head injuries.
The new study which included loneliness and depression amongst the factors was based on 36 men and 46 women with the average age being 76 years old. Amongst them, 28 percent revealed the presence of genetic risk factors and 32 percent tested positive for amyloid during pre-study imaging.
Cortical amyloid can lead to the appearance of amyloid brain plaques, which are a sign of preclinical AD. The increase of the amyloid levels has also been linked by this study with a rising in the loneliness and depression levels.
When conducting the research, the scientists took into consideration the participants socioeconomic status, their sex and anxiety and depression status.
As they established a loneliness scale from 3 to 12, the average value was of 5.3 whilst participants with a 7.5 or higher score were more likely to be more lonely and to present higher amyloid levels.
As such, the research established that loneliness and depression may be amongst the neuropsychiatric symptoms which may help in the detection of preclinical AD.
The researchers hope that their study will help in the early detection and prevention of Alzheimer’s as it was now established that one’s socioemotional life and especially late-life loneliness may prove to be contributing factors.
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