Study Finds Anxiety and Worry May Progress Alzheimer’s More Quickly

Older adults with memory problems may progress to Alzheimer’s more quickly if they are also suffering from anxiety symptoms, a preliminary study suggests.

It’s common for people with Alzheimer’s disease to have mood symptoms, including anxiety and depression. And some research has suggested those symptoms can, in older people, act as early indicators of the dementia process.

The new study focused on 339 patients diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment — persistent problems with memory and thinking skills that can progress to full-blown dementia.

But progression is not guaranteed, and people vary in how quickly their mental functioning declines.

There’s no way to predict how things will go for any one person, said Dr. Maria Vittoria Spampinato, senior author on the study.

But researchers are trying to figure out whether certain factors are linked to the speed of progression. The new findings suggest anxiety might be one, according to Spampinato, a professor of radiology at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Her team found that patients with more anxiety symptoms at the outset were more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease over the next several years, compared to those with few symptoms.

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SOURCE: WebMD, Amy Norton

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