Early Memory Problems in Cognitively Healthy People May Point to Alzheimer’s Risk

Medical News Today reports that research has found that cognitively healthy people who self-report memory problems had early signs of Alzheimer’s, such as high tau buildup in the brain. The thought is that this might help experts detect potential Alzheimer’s at an earlier stage, with treatment begun before symptoms appear. Early treatment of Alzheimer’s is believed by many to be more effective at slowing, but not stopping, the disease progression. The new study, published in May in Neurology, had recruited neurologically healthy older adults without measurable cognitive impairments, but who had concerns about their memory. Study subjects had an average age of 72. Participants answered questions about their memory and thinking skills and how well they performed daily tasks. Scientists found that people who self-reported memory loss were more likely to have elevated levels of amyloid proteins and tau tangles associated with Alzheimer’s, as shown by brain scans. In the study, 60% of participants had elevated levels of amyloid. (Note: Although the study mentioned here found an association between self-reported memory loss and elevated amyloid/tau, there is currently considerable controversy over whether it is sufficiently effective or safe to treat cognitively normal patients for Alzheimer’s, such as by administering drugs designed to slow amyloid protein buildup. Further research is needed on this. See our AgeWise Colorado article at Alzheimers Treatment Controversy for details.)  

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