Springhill Home Care Group: Mid-life stress 'precedes dementia'
Current evidence suggest 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” - Dr Simon Ridley Alzheimer's Research UK
According to the latest research, women who suffer from a lot of stress in middle age may increase their risk of developing dementia in later life. Furthermore the study says that mid-life stress may increase a woman's risk of developing dementia.
Eight hundred women were subjected to study and they have found out that those who had to cope with events such as divorce or bereavement were more likely to get Alzheimer's decades later.
BMJ Open reports says, the more stressful events there were, the higher the dementia risk became.
According to the study authors, stress hormones may be to blame, triggering harmful alterations in the brain.
Many changes in the body is caused by stressed hormones, it can also affect many things like blood pressure and blood sugar control.
And they can remain at high levels many years after experiencing a traumatic event, Dr Lena Johansson and colleagues explain.
However they also claim that they need more work to verify their findings and determine whether the same stress and dementia link might also occur in men.
The study went like this, the women underwent a battery of tests and examinations when they were in either their late 30s, mid-40s or 50s, and then again at regular intervals over the next four decades.
One in four women said at some part in the start of the study that they had experienced at least one stressful event, such as widowhood or unemployment.
A comparable proportion had suffered at least two stressful events, whereas one in five had experienced at least three. The remaining women had either experienced more than this or none.
Four hundred twenty five of the women died and 153 developed dementia during follow-up.
When the researchers looked back at the women's history of mid-life stress, they found the link between stress and dementia risk.
Dr Johansson says future studies should look at whether stress management and behavioural therapy might help offset dementia.
Dr Simon Ridley, of Alzheimer's Research UK, said that from this study, it was hard to know whether stress contributed directly to the development of dementia, whether it was purely an indicator of another underlying risk factor in this population of women, or whether the link was due to an entirely different factor.
"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.
"If you are feeling stressed or concerned about your health in general, we would recommend you talk this through with your GP."