Experts from the University of Southampton are about to start a study to detect whether stress could trigger dementia. People with mild cognitive impairment are at higher risk of developing dementia, though some individuals remain stable and some may improve from the condition.
The earlier studies have suggested that mild-life stress could increase an individual’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A separate long-term Swedish research which followed about fifteen hundred women for thirty-five years found that risk of dementia was around sixty-five percent higher in women, who informed repeated episodes of stress in middle age compared to those who did not.
The animal studies that have conducted by Scottish researchers believe the link may be down to hormones in the body releases in response to stress which interfere with brain function. Lead author Prof Clive Holmes, stated all individuals go through stressful events. They are looking to understand how these may become a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s.
Something such as bereavement or a traumatic experience may possibly even move home may also be the potential factors. This is the first stage in developing ways in which to intervene with psychological or drug-based treatments are used to fight the disease. They are looking at two aspects of stress relief, one is physical and other is psychological and the body’s response to that experiences, added Prof Holmes.
Now, experts will monitor one hundred and forty individuals with mild cognitive impairment or pre-dementia and look at how stress affects their condition. The blood and saliva samples of all study participants will be taken at six-monthly intervals over the eighteen months of the study to evaluate biological markers of stress.
Researchers anticipate their work will reveal ways to prevent dementia. The study findings could offer clues to new treatments or better ways of managing the condition. The study will be funded by the Alzheimer’s Society.