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Mild Cognitive Decline Tied to Early Death in Seniors

Update Date: Apr 24, 2014 09:58 AM EDT
Seniors
It is better for memory to make mistakes while learning and lead to the correct answer, according to a new study. However, it is effective only if the guesses are close-but-no-cigar, the findings of the study added. (Photo : Wiki Commons)

As people age, their brains experience different levels of decline that can be detrimental to overall health. For example, moderate to severe cognitive decline, such as memory loss and difficulty thinking, can indicate dementia. In a new study, researchers examined the effects of mild cognitive decline. They found that mild cognitive decline might be tied to an increased risk of early death.

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For this study, the researchers recruited 2,154 adults from Olmsted County, MN. The participants were between the ages of 70 and 89, and were followed for almost six years. 862 of the adults suffered from memory or thinking complications and 1,292 did not experience any kinds of mental decline. Their cognitive health was measured via tests that were administered at the start of the study and then at every 15 months. 38 percent of the people from the mild cognitive decline group had died whereas only 17 percent of the people without any mental decline died.

The researchers calculated that seniors suffering from mild cognitive decline had an 80 percent greater risk of dying when compared to seniors who did not have any memory or thinking problems. The researchers found that people who developed problem with language, attention and decision-making abilities and had no memory loss were two times as likely to die in comparison to people who did not have any mental decline. Seniors who only had memory loss were 68 percent more likely to die than people with their mental health intact.

"I assume that there is an underlying disease process that is going to manifest earlier as brain dysfunction and later on lead to death," Dr. Marc Gordon, chief of neurology at Zucker Hillside Hospital, in Glen Oaks, NY, said reported by WebMD. "Perhaps there may be other things going on that affect the brain and that also affect mortality, whether or not you develop dementia."

The Mayo Clinic study was presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in Philadelphia, PA.

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