Anxiety in people with memory problems could increase their risk of contracting Alzheimer’s disease later in life, says a new research.
Anxiety symptoms in individuals diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) increase the risk of a speedier decline in cognitive functions – independent of depression, the findings showed.
For MCI patients with mild, moderate or severe anxiety, Alzheimer’s risk increased by 33 percent, 78 percent and 135 percent, respectively.
“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 of developing Alzheimer’s,” said Linda Mah, principal investigator on the study and assistant professor at the University of Toronto in Canada.
The researchers analysed anxiety, depression, cognitive and brain structural changes in 376 adults, aged 55-91, over a three-year period.
Changes were monitored every six months. All of the adults had a clinical diagnosis of MCI and a low score on the depression rating scale, indicating that anxiety symptoms were not part of clinical depression.
The study yielded important evidence that anxiety is a predictive factor of whether an individual with MCI will convert to Alzheimer’s or not, Mah concluded.
The study appeared online in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.