Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Could Regular Stress Lead to Alzheimer's?

As a society, we are stressed, but now, more than ever, it is important that we de-stress and learn how to relax.  A new study suggests that stress hormones inhibit brain activity and, if chronically elevated, can cause Alzheimer's.

Constantly being stressed can increase the risk of dementia, researchers have warned.

A study, performed on mice, has found that stress hormones, which are elevated in the brain when a person is stressed, inhibit brain activity.

Furthermore, if the hormone levels are chronically elevated, this can lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sara Bengtsson, a PhD student, tested her theory on mice. She found that mice with higher levels of stress hormones in their brains suffered impaired learning and memory.

They also had increased brain levels of beta-amyloids – the proteins that form plaque deposits in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers.

She believes that the effect of stress hormones on the brain could mean the difference between living independently and needing to be put into Alzheimer’s care.

Some research has already highlighted a possible link between chronic stress, cognitive decline and the development of Alzheimer’s, and further study in people is needed to fully investigate these links.

If we can better understand the risk factors for Alzheimer’s we can also empower people to make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk.

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia and we urgently need new treatments that could stop the disease in its tracks. The research comes just after another study which suggested that disrupted sleep could be one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

For information on Alzheimer’s care facilities, contact Spring Arbor.