Dementia is a chronic mental illness which affects a huge number of people both in the UK and internationally, and becomes increasingly prevalent amongst older people over the age of 65.
Some typical symptoms of Dementia include loss of memory, difficulty with communication and disorientation, however, the classification of Dementia can be attributed to a broad type of declines in an individual’s mental abilities.
Now, a study has been conducted which suggests there is a link between weight loss in middle aged people and the risk of developing Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
This is important as MCI has been known to be one of the early signs for the onset of a much more serious disease, namely Dementia.
The study, organised by researchers at The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, involved the monitoring of around 2,000 adults (1,895 to be exact) over the age of 70 for an average of 4.4 years to analyse whether or not there were signs of developing MCI symptoms.
Researchers used the participants’ medical records to understand information such as their height and weight between the years of 40 and 65 in order to identify any notable changes in their anatomy.
Out of those who did unfortunately develop MCI, many were observed as having lost more weight per decade (2kg average) when compared to those who did not show symptoms of the condition (1.2kg average).
The findings of this study have provided another step forward for the treatment and diagnosis of Dementia, as the medical community now have an additional warning sign to consider which could allow for earlier diagnosis of both MCI and Dementia itself.
In terms of its causes, Dementia is still a largely misunderstood disease, with the only currently known causes being ageing and hereditary factors.
Whilst the study itself cannot be entirely conclusive of a absolute link between weight loss and MCI or Dementia (there are a multitude of different factors to consider for the cause of weight loss), the results do provide strong reasoning to conduct further research into this area.
This news is sure to be welcomed by members of the public and the medical community alike as, due to the gradual progression and enigmatic nature of the disease, identifying symptoms early on can be incredibly challenging and this inevitably has a knock on effect to the capabilities of diagnosis.
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