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Midlife Stress May Raise Dementia Risk

Update Date: Oct 01, 2013 10:53 AM EDT

Stress due to common life events my trigger long lasting physiological changes in the brain, according to a new study.

The latest study involved 800 Swedish women. Their mental health and wellbeing were tracked for 40 years. It was also the part of Prospective Population Study of Women in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The study showed that the women who had to cope with events such as divorce were more likely to get Alzheimer’s 10 years later. The risk of dementia risk was higher if the event was more stressful.

The reason of the outcomes is not clear. The study authors say it might be the hormones that trigger harmful alterations in the brain.

At the very outset of the study, one in four women said they had experienced at least one stressful event prior. In similar proportions women had experienced at least three stressful events.

During the follow up, 425 of the women died and 153 developed dementia.

Looking back at women’s history of mid-life stress, researchers were able to link stress and dementia risk.

“We know that the risk factors for dementia are complex and our age, genetics and environment may all play a role. Current evidence suggests the best ways to reduce the risk of dementia are to eat a balanced diet, take regular exercise, not smoke, and keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check,” said Dr Simon Ridley, of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

“If you are feeling stressed or concerned about your health in general, we would recommend you talk this through with your GP, ” he later added.

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