Anxiety Hastens Alzheimer's for Seniors with Mild
Late-life depression has been identified as a
significant risk marker for Alzheimer's
10, 2014 – A new study has identified anxiety as a condition that can
hasten the development of Alzheimer’s disease in people with mild
cognitive impairment (MCI), who are at risk of slowly developing
Alzheimer’s over a few years. Although this study focused on adults over
age 54, the news may not be as distressing for senior citizens, who are
considerably less likely than younger adults to suffer anxiety
This study has shown clearly - for the first time,
researchers say - that anxiety symptoms in older individuals diagnosed
with MCI increase the risk of a speedier decline in cognitive functions
- independent of depression (another risk marker). For MCI patients with
mild, moderate or severe anxiety, Alzheimer's risk increased by 33%, 78%
and 135% respectively.
The research team, led by researchers at Baycrest
Health Sciences' Rotman Research Institute, Toronto, Canada, also found
that MCI patients who had reported anxiety symptoms at any time over the
follow-up period had greater rates of atrophy in the medial temporal
lobe regions of the brain, which are essential for creating memories and
which are implicated in Alzheimer's.
People with generalized anxiety
disorder (GAD) go through the day filled with exaggerated worry and
tension, even though there is little or nothing to provoke it. They
anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money,
family problems, or difficulties at work. Sometimes just the thought of
getting through the day produces anxiety. (See more about anxiety below
Until now, anxiety as a potentially significant
risk marker for Alzheimer's in people diagnosed with MCI has never been
isolated for a longitudinal study to gain a clearer picture of just how
damaging anxiety symptoms can be on cognition and brain structure over a
period of time.
There is a growing body of literature that has
identified late-life depression as a significant risk marker for
Alzheimer's. Anxiety has historically tended to be subsumed under the
rubric of depression in psychiatry. Depression is routinely screened for
in assessment and follow-up of memory clinic patients; anxiety is not
"Our findings suggest that clinicians should
routinely screen for anxiety in people who have memory problems because
anxiety signals that these people are at greater risk for developing
Alzheimer's," said Dr. Linda Mah, principal investigator on the study,
clinician-scientist with Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute, and
assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of
Dr. Mah is also a co-investigator in a multi-site
study lead by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and partially
funded by federal dollars (Brain Canada), to prevent Alzheimer's in
people with late-life depression or MCI who are at high risk for
developing the progressive brain disease.
"While there is no published evidence to
demonstrate whether drug treatments used in psychiatry for treating
anxiety would be helpful in managing anxiety symptoms in people with
mild cognitive impairment or in reducing their risk of conversion to
Alzheimer's, we think that at the very least behavioral stress
management programs could be recommended. In particular, there has been
research on the use of mindfulness-based stress reduction in treating
anxiety and other psychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer's --and this is
showing promise," said Dr. Mah.
The findings were reported on Oct. 29 online by
The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, ahead of print
publication, scheduled for May 2015.
The Baycrest study accessed data from the large
population-based Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative to analyze
anxiety, depression, cognitive and brain structural changes in 376
adults, aged 55 - 91, over a three-year period. Those changes were
monitored every six months. All of the adults had a clinical diagnosis
of amnestic MCI and a low score on the depression rating scale,
indicating that anxiety symptoms were not part of clinical depression.
MCI is considered a risk marker for converting to
Alzheimer's disease within a few years. It is estimated that
half-a-million Canadians aged 65-and-older have MCI, although many go
undiagnosed. Not all MCI sufferers will convert to Alzheimer's - some
will stabilize and others may even improve in their cognitive powers.
The Baycrest study has yielded important evidence
that anxiety is a "predictive factor" of whether an individual with MCI
will convert to Alzheimer's or not, said Dr. Mah. Studies have shown
that anxiety in MCI is associated with abnormal concentrations of plasma
amyloid protein levels and T-tau proteins in cerebrospinal fluid, which
are biomarkers of Alzheimer's. Depression and chronic stress have also
been linked to smaller hippocampal volume and increased risk of
In addition to Dr. Mah, the research team included
Dr. Malcolm Binns (statistician scientist at Baycrest's Rotman Research
Institute, and assistant professor of the Dalla Lana School of Public
Health at the University of Toronto), and Dr. David Steffens (Department
of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut Health Center).
The study was supported by the National Institutes
of Health, and the Geoffrey H. Wood Foundation.
and anxiety are part of life. You may feel anxious before you take a
test or walk down a dark street. This kind of anxiety is useful - it can
make you more alert or careful. It usually ends soon after you are out
of the situation that caused it.
But for millions of people in the
United States, the anxiety does not go away, and gets worse over time.
They may have chest pains or nightmares. They may even be afraid to
leave home. These people have anxiety disorders.
Anxiety Disorders affect about 40
million American adults age 18 years and older (about 18%) in a given
year, causing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty. Unlike
the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event (such as
speaking in public or a first date), anxiety disorders last at least 6
months and can get worse if they are not treated. Anxiety disorders
commonly occur along with other mental or physical illnesses, including
alcohol or substance abuse, which may mask anxiety symptoms or make them
worse. In some cases, these other illnesses need to be treated before a
person will respond to treatment for the anxiety disorder. Types include
You may be eligible for money damages if you owned or leased one of these VW, Porsche or Audi vehicles.
In the major scandal of 2015, Volkswagen cheated you and the world. They rigged diesel emission controls so you, nor regulators, would know how much pollution their cars were adding to our environment.
They were caught and have reserved $7.3 billion to help "make it right" with victims.
If you owned or leased one of these vehicles, contact us now.
Janicek Law attorneys are actively pursuing these cases against VW. Do Not Wait...