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Perceived Stress May Increase Risk of Cognitive Decline

Adults who perceived themselves to be under the most stress had 30 percent greater risk

woman face showing signs of stress and worry

TUESDAY, Dec. 15, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- High levels of perceived stress could be a risk factor for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published online Dec. 11 in Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders.

The study authors gave questionnaires to just over 507 adults, aged 70 and older, asking about how much stress they experience. None of the adults had signs of dementia at the study's start. The researchers followed these adults for more than three years. Each year, the adults underwent a series of tests related to their daily living, their memory, and their ability to think clearly.

The researchers found that adults who perceived themselves to be under the most stress had a 30 percent greater risk of early cognitive impairment. This risk remained after accounting for participants' depression symptoms, age, sex, race, education level, and genetic risk of Alzheimer's disease.

"The evidence suggests that perception of events is more important than the events themselves in predicting biological consequences and future health," study coauthor Richard Lipton, M.D., vice chair of neurology at the Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, told HealthDay. "This is good news because perception of stressful events is amenable to intervention."

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