Mental Changes Show Up Long Before Alzheimer's Develops
WebMD News Archive
The study confirms the notion that changes that eventually result in
Alzheimer's disease are going on years before the disease is diagnosed, says
Paul Fishman, MD, a professor of neurology at the University of Maryland School
of Medicine who commented on the study for WebMD. "The question from a
public-health perspective is, Can we identify those at risk of developing
Alzheimer's at an early date, particularly if we have an intervention that can
slow or prevent the disease? If so, tests such as these might be really
useful," he says.
Knowing who is at risk of developing the disease can also help researchers
assess the effectiveness of treatments, Fishman says: "For example, we know
that vitamin E may be beneficial in some people with Alzheimer's disease, but
how much more beneficial might it be earlier in the disease? If we can identify
those at risk, we have a potential population in whom testing interventions
might make sense."
Elias says the long-term study is already giving researchers some ideas
about potential interventions.
"The Framingham Study is providing us with a lot of interesting
associations between cognitive impairment and other chronic conditions, such as
diabetes," he says. "These are conditions where people can control or
reduce their risk factors by watching their diet, controlling their high blood
pressure, and exercising, for example. If we can make a connection between
mental function and these behaviors, it would be a powerful stimulus for people
to change their lifestyle to reduce their risk."
For more information from WebMD, visit our Diseases and Conditions Alzheimer's page.
- In a recent study, researchers found that changes in mental functions may
predict whether a person will go on to develop Alzheimer's disease.
- Tests of logical reasoning, retention of information, and abstract
reasoning were all indicators of risk for Alzheimer's disease. But scoring
poorly on these tests does not guarantee that a person will develop the
- Predicting who will get Alzheimer's may be an important tool one day, if
researchers can develop treatments to prevent or slow the disease's