How to Prevent Stress From Triggering Alzheimer’s

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Older adults are more than twice as likely to develop an impairment that often precedes Alzheimer's disease, a study finds. Here is what you can do to try to prevent such an outcome.

Another study has linked stress and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System in New York City who studied data on more than 500 older adults found that highly stressed participants were more than twice as likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Such brain function impairment often precedes full-blown Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that about 470,000 Americans are diagnosed with each year.

This study, published online by the journal Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders, focused on the connection between chronic stress and amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), the most common type of MCI, which is primarily characterized by memory loss.

Senior study author Dr. Richard Lipton, vice chairman of neurology at Einstein and Montefiore, explains in a news release:

“Our study provides strong evidence that perceived stress increases the likelihood that an older person will develop aMCI.

“Fortunately, perceived stress is a modifiable risk factor for cognitive impairment, making it a potential target for treatment.”

In other words, stress management might postpone and prevent cognitive decline.

Lipton tells CBS News that stress management techniques can include physical activity, meditation and yoga.

Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach at the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association, tells CBS that a few other studies of stress and the risk of developing amnestic mild cognitive impairment have yielded results similar to those of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine study:

“According to the scientific literature, there appears to be some kind of connection between high levels of stress and later developing dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease.”

Fargo also notes that there is strong evidence showing that regular exercise as well as managing cardiovascular risk factors (such as obesity, smoking and high blood pressure) can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and possibly dementia.

For more relaxing tips, check out “Who Needs a Shrink? 8 Cheap Ways to Relieve Stress.”

Do you take any steps to manage your stress or reduce cognitive decline? Let us know in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Stacy Johnson

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