Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Moreover dementia is a collective term used to describe various symptoms of cognitive decline, such as forgetfulness. It is a symptom of several underlying diseases and brain disorders. A study was conducted in the Copenhagen City Heart Study between 1991 and 1994. The researchers aimed to analyze the data through a survey of about 7,000 participants. These participants were 60 years old, on average, at the time of survey/study. As part of the study, the contributors had been asked questions about vital fatigue. Islamoska and her colleagues clinically followed the participants until the end of 2016. They also examined the participants’ hospital records and mortality and prescription registers in search of diagnoses of dementia.
Rise in Dementia by 2%
The study revealed a dose-response link between vital exhaustion in midlife and the development of Alzheimer’s later on. The lead author reports, “For each additional symptom of vital exhaustion, we found that the risk of dementia rose by two percent.”
Moreover the “Participants reporting five to nine symptoms had a 25 percent higher risk of dementia than those with no symptoms, while those reporting 10 to 17 symptoms had a 40 percent higher risk of dementia, compared with not having symptoms,” Islamoska continues.
The research described that the results are unlikely to be due to reverse causation, that is, it is unlikely that dementia causes vital exhaustion, rather than the other way around. Islamoska says “We were particularly concerned whether the symptoms of vital exhaustion would be an early sign of dementia, Yet, we found an association of the same magnitude, even when separating the reporting of vital exhaustion and the dementia diagnoses with up to 20 years.”
Causes and Risk Factors
Researchers believe there is not a single cause of Alzheimer’s disease. The disease likely develops from multiple factors, such as genetics, lifestyle and environment. Scientists have identified factors that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. While some risk factors — age, family history and heredity — can’t be changed, emerging evidence suggests there may be other factors that can influence are
Moreover certain health issues, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, may also influence the odds of experiencing dementia because they impact the blood vessels. The new research indicates that psychological factors could also affect risk. Psychological distress, in particular, may increase the likelihood of developing dementia, suggests the new study. Specifically, researchers led by Sabrina Islamoska, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, set out to investigate the possibility of a link between vital exhaustion and Alzheimer’s disease. Vital exhaustion describes “a mental state of psychological distress” that manifests as irritability, fatigue, and a feeling of demoralization. As the researchers explain, vital exhaustion may be a reaction to “unsolvable problems” in one’s life, especially when the person has been exposed to stressors for a prolonged period. So, vital exhaustion can be seen as a sign of psychological distress.
Previous studies have noted that vital exhaustion may raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, premature death, and obesity, among other conditions.
According to study the possible mechanisms that may underpin the findings, the researchers point to excessive levels of the stress hormone cortisol and cardiovascular changes as potential culprits.
According to the research by Islamoska, the stress can have severe and harmful consequences, not just for our brain health, but for our health in general.
The study also reveals that cardiovascular risk factors are well-known, modifiable risk factors for dementia, and in some countries a stagnation or even a decreasing incidence of dementia has been recently noted.
At the end Islamoska concluded that their study indicates that they can go further in the prevention of dementia by addressing psychological risk factors leading to dementia.