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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Weaker muscles linked to Alzheimers risk...

Weaker Muscles Linked To Alzheimer’s Risk...

New research in the November 2009 issue of Archives of Neurology finds that older folks with weak muscles might be at an increased for of Alzheimer’s disease.

A team from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago followed nearly 1,000 older adults of an average age of 80 who were without dementia at the start of the study. The subjects were evaluated for a number of things, including cognitive function and muscle strength.

During the average 3.6 years of follow up, 14.2% (138 people) of the subjects had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The team found those who had the most muscle strength at the start of the study were 61% less likely to develop the memory robbing condition than those who had the weakest muscles.

The link between strength of muscles and Alzheimer’s stood up even after accounting for other factors such as body mass index and levels of physical activity. The reason for the link remains a mystery.

Weak muscles were also linked to an increased risk of mild cognitive impairment, thought to be the first sign of cognitive decline.

“Overall, these data show that greater muscle strength is associated with a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment and suggest that a common pathogenesis may underlie loss of muscle strength and cognition in aging,” writes study author Patricia A. Boyle and colleagues.

Alzheimer’s, for those lucky enough not to know, is more than the normal forgetfulness of aging, it’s an irreversible and progressive disease that destroys thinking and memory. In the end, patients are unable to do everyday things that once were no problem – cooking, dressing, driving a car, making decisions, running errands – all no longer possible.

In a large number of cases, the Alzheimer’s symptoms show up after age 60. Recent estimates have as many as 2.4 to 4.5 million Americans living with this life altering disease.

Science still doesn’t know what starts the Alzheimer’s process in motion, though experts continue to believe that the damage begins from 10 to 20 years before you see any symptoms.

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