Study: Being unaware of memory loss may predict Alzheimer's

Memory loss is an early symptom of Alzheimer's disease, but memory loss alone does not mean a person will definitely develop dementia, researchers say.
By Amy Wallace  |  Oct. 10, 2017 at 3:50 PM
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Oct. 10 (UPI) -- A recent study by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto found that being unaware of memory loss may be a predictor for Alzheimer's disease.

The study, published today in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, showed that people who had anosognosia, a condition in which people are unaware of memory loss, makes them more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. People who were aware of memory loss were less likely to develop dementia.

Researchers analyzed data on 1,062 people between age 55 and 90 who participated in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. The study included 191 people with Alzheimer's disease, 499 with mild cognitive impairment and 372 as part of a healthy control group.

The team used PET brain scans, finding patients with impaired illness awareness also had reduced glucose uptake in specific areas of the brain -- glucose uptake is impaired in Alzheimer's disease.

"If patients complain of memory problems, but their partner or caregiver isn't overly concerned, it's likely that the memory loss is due to other factors, possibly depression or anxiety," Dr. Philip Gerretsen, a clinician scientist in CAMH's Geriatric Division and Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, said in a press release. "They can be reassured that they are unlikely to develop dementia, and the other causes of memory loss should be addressed."

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