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Paranoia Linked to Triple Dementia Risk

Update Date: Sep 25, 2014 08:34 PM EDT

People who think they have Alzheimer's disease might actually be right. New research reveals that individuals who notice that their memory is slipping are more likely to suffer the neurodegenerative disease.

Lead researcher Richard Kryscio, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Biostatistics and Associate Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at the University of Kentucky, and his team believe the latest findings confirm that self-reported memory complaints are significant predictors of future memory impairment.

The latest study involved 531 dementia-free people with an average age of 73 who were asked about changes in their memory. Participants also underwent annual memory and cognition tests for an average of 10 years, and their brains were examined after death.

The findings revealed that 56 percent of the participants reported changes in their memory at an average age of 82. The study also showed that participants who reported memory changes had triple the risk of developing memory and cognition problems. Study results revealed that 80 percent of participants who reported experiencing memory changes developed dementia. However, only one in six participants developed the neurodegenerative disease.

"What's notable about our study is the time it took for the transition from self-reported memory complaint to dementia or clinical impairment -- about 12 years for dementia and nine years for clinical impairment -- after the memory complaints began," Kryscio said. "That suggests that there may be a significant window of opportunity for intervention before a diagnosable problem shows up."

"Certainly, someone with memory issues should report it to their doctor so they can be followed. Unfortunately, however, we do not yet have preventative therapies for Alzheimer's disease or other illnesses that cause memory problems."

The findings are published in the journal Neurology.

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