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Age Affects Alzheimer's Pathology Link to Dementia

Most neuropathological changes only associated with dementia in younger elderly

WEDNESDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- Most neuropathological changes associated with Alzheimer's disease are strongly associated with dementia only in younger elderly persons, according to a study in the May 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

George M. Savva, Ph.D., from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the association between age, neuropathological changes, and dementia in 456 brains donated by persons who were 69 to 103 years old at death.

The researchers found a strong association between neocortical neuritic plaques and dementia in persons 75 years old (odds ratio, 8.63) but less so in persons 95 years old (odds ratio, 2.48). Similar trends were observed when considering other neuropathological changes related to Alzheimer's disease. However, the authors note, neocortical cerebral atrophy remained strongly associated with dementia regardless of age (odds ratio, 5.11 for persons 75 years old and 6.10 for persons 95 years old).

"The association between the pathological features of Alzheimer's disease and dementia is stronger in younger old persons than in older old persons," Savva and colleagues conclude. "Age must be taken into account when assessing the likely effect of interventions against dementia on the population."

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