PUBLISHED: PUBLISHED: 00:01, Mon, Jul 17, 2017
GETTYDivorces, redundancies, bereavements and other common traumas could have a destructive impact
Divorces, redundancies, bereavements and other common traumas could have a destructive impact on mental function, experts believe.
The impact is thought to accumulate, meaning several major episodes could age the brain by decades. A growing body of evidence also points to stress in early life contributing to a greater risk of dementia.
Dr Carol Routledge, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “There is a growing realisation events throughout life can impact the brain decades later.”
Experts believe trauma could trigger inflammation inside the brain which accelerates dementia.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health interviewed 1,320 people with an average age of 58.
The findings, presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London, have shed new light on the way our brains react to major life events.
The study was one of several to highlight racial disparities in dementia.
GETTYThe impact is thought to accumulate, meaning several major episodes could age the brain by decades
Factors that could contribute to difference in risk include education, poverty, stress and depression.
It confirmed racial inequities in numbers suffering Alzheimer’s, with African Americans most at risk. On average they experience 60 per cent more stressful events than others.
This should be a wake-up call for the UK
Dr Doug Brown, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It’s no surprise this study indicates stressful life events may also affect our memory.”
Maria Carrillo, chief science officer for Alzheimer’s Association, said: “These studies were done with US data but they give weight to the global body of evidence, which requires co-ordinated action.”
GETTYExperts believe trauma could trigger inflammation inside the brain which accelerates dementia
It comes as separate research showed how positron emission tomography (PET) scans could revolutionise dementia diagnosis by providing a more accurate picture than using brain or spinal fluid samples.
Use of the technology in the UK lags way behind because of money, with each scan costing up to £3,000, but new research suggests they could prove vital.Tue, December 20, 2016
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One study compared PET scans to the tests used to diagnose Alzheimer’s in Norway, including memory tests and lumbar puncture.
Researchers found PET scans were a key contributor in a specific diagnosis or ruling out Alzheimer’s.
In the second study, Swedish researchers performed PET scans on people with an unclear diagnosis.
GETTYResearchers found PET scans were a key contributor in a specific diagnosis or ruling out Alzheimerâs
Preliminary results from 61 of 135 people showed scans resulted in a change in diagnosis in 68 per cent of study participants.
The third study by GE Healthcare in the UK revealed the use of brain amyloid PET scans led to a change in diagnosis in 20 per cent.
Dr James Pickett, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This should be a wake-up call for the UK.”