American researchers have found that anxiety symptoms that increase in intensity are related to the increase in the level of a protein associated with Alzheimer’s, in the elderly with normal cognitive functioning. The results were provided by Dr. Nancy Donovan, a geriatric psychiatrist at Boston Women’s Hospital.
The first signs appeared 10 years before
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that manifests itself through memory and thinking problems, behavioral changes. The cause of the condition is unknown, but experts suspect that a type of protein called beta-amyloid plays an important role in triggering it, because it forms plaques that block communication between nerve cells in the brain in people with Alzheimer’s. An increase in beta-amyloid levels was observed 10 years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s appeared. According to the new study, anxiety plays an important role in increasing the level of this protein with age.
Treating anxiety slows the progression of the disease
Almost 300 people between the ages of 62 and 90 participated in the research that lasted 5 years. An increase in the level of beta-amyloid protein in the brain was observed in people who suffered from anxiety and who had an intensification of anxiety symptoms during the 5 years.
“If future studies prove that anxiety is an indicator of Alzheimer’s, we will be able to identify people predisposed to Alzheimer’s and treat them to reduce and prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” said the coordinator of the research team, doctor Nancy Donovan.