What are the common affections prior to Alzheimer’s?
Over a 15-year period, statistical scans of medical records resulted in a list of the 10 most common conditions suffered by patients who go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Depression topped the list. Among the other nine conditions that could herald Alzheimer’s disease are anxiety disorder, exposure to high stress, hearing loss, constipation, cervical spondyloarthritis (a type of arthritis that affects the spine), memory loss, fatigue (and discomfort), and lastly, falls and sudden weight loss.
”Depression and anxiety were among the risk factors for dementia that had already been identified by the recent Lancet Commission. However, it remains a matter of debate whether these conditions are risk factors for dementia, early symptoms of dementia, or both.
The association between depression and subsequent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease became significant at least nine years before the first clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, consistent with the report of the Whitehall II cohort study, they clarified.
“The connections made allowed us to confirm known associations, such as hearing problems or depression, and other lesser-known factors or early symptoms, such as cervical spondylosis or constipation. However, we are only reporting statistical associations. They will need to be the subject of further study to understand the underlying mechanisms.”
“It remains to be seen whether the health problems found are risk factors, symptoms or warning signs of the disease,” explained researcher Thomas Nedelec, from the Aramis team.
Alzheimer’s disease is believed to account for 60-70% of dementia cases worldwide, making it one of the major health challenges of the 21st century.
The results were published in The Lancet Digital Health journal. Until now, there has been no comprehensive study conducted on a very large sample of patients looking at potential risk factors long before Alzheimer’s diagnosis.