As people get older, more and more studies are being conducted to detect the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, including those that may appear 15 years before the disease’s onset, in order to prevent or delay it in the future.
In collaboration with the Paris Brain Institute, a multidisciplinary team of Aramis project researchers analysed anonymous health records from approximately 80,000 patients. The researchers discovered ten pathologies that were more common in patients who reported dementia within 15 years than in other patients of the same age. The findings were published in The Lancet Digital Health, a peer-reviewed journal.
Despite an increasing number of discoveries, knowledge about the risk factors and early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is still limited.
To date, no exhaustive study on a large enough sample of patients has been conducted to determine possible risk factors long before an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
For the first time, a team of researchers accessed anonymous medical data from nearly 40,000 Alzheimer’s patients and the same number of control subjects who did not develop degenerative diseases during the study period.
What are the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease?
Anxiety, exposure to high pressure, hearing loss, constipation, inflammation of neck vertebrae, memory loss, fatigue with malaise, and sudden weight loss topped the list.
“The conclusions formed allowed us to confirm known connections, such as hearing problems or depression, and other lesser known causes or early symptoms, such as spondylosis of the neck or constipation,” said Thomas Nedelec, PHD, a researcher at the Institut du Cerveau-Paris Brain Institute. We, on the other hand, only report statistical relationships.
“These will need to be studied further in order to understand the underlying mechanisms.”
The question is whether the health issues identified by researchers are risk factors, symptoms, or warning signs of the disease.
Although the study’s findings need to be refined further, they are already useful for healthcare professionals and others involved in prevention methods, who can try to treat these risk factors as soon as they are discovered and, hopefully, prevent this extremely complex disease.