Scientists are unsure whether other symptoms are risk factors, the reason for the condition developing, or early warning signs a person will develop it in later life
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Researchers have linked Alzheimer’s disease to 10 health conditions many years before the condition is diagnosed.
The earliest associated finding is a major depressive disorder, which was found nine years beforehand.
Anxiety, constipation and weight loss have also been linked to the brain condition which causes brain cells to shrink.
But scientists are unsure whether other symptoms are risk factors, the reason for the condition developing, or early warning signs a person will develop it.
Alzheimer’s leads to memory loss, confusion and thinking skills worsening over a sustained period of time.
And 70 percent of dementia cases are believed to be begin with Alzheimer’s.
The Daily Record reports that researchers think the condition is one of the ‘main health challenges of the 21st century’.
Its cause is still unknown and at present there is no cure.
But the NHS says there are a few established things thought to increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s – such as increasing age, family history, untreated depression, and lifestyle factors and conditions associated with heart disease.
Appearing in The Lancet Digital Health, the Paris Brain Institute aimed to confirm well-known dementia risk factors and discover others.
The research could lead to early or new interventions into the devastating condition.
They analyzed Alzheimer’s patient information, examining data collected from 20,214 UK patients over a 24 year period and 19,458 people in France covering 21 years.
The study is the first to identify constipation as a possible risk factor appearing seven years before Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Health conditions linked to later Alzheimer’s diagnosis
- major depression
- Abnormal weight loss
- Reaction to severe stress
- Sleep disorders
- hearing loss
- Type of arthritis called cervical spondylosis
Researcher Thomas Nedelec from the Aramis team said: “The connections made allowed us to confirm known associations, such as hearing problems or depression, and other less known factors or early symptoms, such as cervical spondylosis or constipation.
“However, we are only reporting statistical associations. These will have to be the subject of further studies to understand the underlying mechanisms.
“The question remains as to whether the health problems encountered are risk factors, symptoms, or warning signs of the disease.”
In November last year The Mirror reported on a possible vaccine for the condition.
Experiments on mice found the vaccine destroys rogue proteins in the brain and, in doing so, restores memory.
The pioneering therapy it was claimed could revolutionize treatment, according to British and German scientists.
Clinical trials on the technique, which targets soluble and highly toxic fragments of amyloid beta that clump into plaques, could begin in two years.
And if successful a vaccine could cost £15 a shot..
Professor Thomas Bayer, of Gottingen University in Germany, who is co-author of the study, said scientists adopted a different approach.
They created antibody which the immune system would not recognize as ‘foreign’.
Co-author of the research Professor Mark Carr, of Leicester University, then said: “If these results were replicated in human trials, then it could be transformative.
“It opens up the possibility to not only treat Alzheimer’s but also to potentially vaccinate against the disease before the symptoms appear.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.