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Study: Memory Loss Boosts Risk of Death

Even Mild Memory Problems Increase Risk, Researchers Find

Memory and Thinking Problems and Risk of Death

The new study is ''another piece of evidence that mild cognitive impairment is far from a benign condition," says Terry E. Goldberg, PhD, an investigator at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and professor of psychiatry and behavioral science, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.

In his own recent research, Goldberg has found that cognitive information is more accurate at predicting who will progress to Alzheimer's disease than are such changes as brain volume.

To reduce the risk of impairment, he says that physical activity has been shown to have good effects on brain chemicals that affect memory.

"There's some evidence that mental activity over the course of one's life span is certainly effective," he says. A healthy diet is also advised. Goldberg reports research grants from Pfizer and serving as a consultant for Merck.

The findings lend support to the idea that cognitive impairment is not something to be dismissed, says William H. Thies, PhD, chief medical and scientific officer for the Alzheimer's Association. "This paper is really a very solid piece of research work that really is documenting that the more cognitive impairment you have, the sooner you are going to die," he tells WebMD. "We have to start taking dementia seriously and recognize it as a fatal disease."

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