25 November 2009

Association of muscle strength with the risk of cognitive decline

Reduced muscle strength associated with risk for Alzheimer’s disease
Archives of Neurology: 9 November 2009
Individuals with weaker muscles appear to have a higher risk for Alzheimer's disease and declines in cognitive function over time, according to a report in the November issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Alzheimer's disease is characterized by declines in memory and other cognitive (thinking, learning and memory) functions, according to background information in the article. However, it is also associated with other features, such as impaired gait and other motor functions, depression and decreased grip strength. …. > full press release : comment from Alzheimer’s Society UK

Comment from Alzheimer’s Australia Research Officer
Dementia News, 23 November 2009.
As people age they commonly lose muscle strength, which is associated with a number of adverse health issues. Yet little research to date has been conducted into whether there is an association between muscle strength and the risk of developing Alzheimer disease or mild cognitive impairment.
A group of researchers from Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, Rush University Medical Center, Illinois, tested the hypothesis that muscle strength is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment in a prospective observational study involving more than 900 community-based older persons who came from retirement communities across the Chicago, Illinois, metropolitan region. None of the study participants had dementia at the beginning of the study.

As well as being evaluated for cognitive fitness, all participants had their strength measured in nine muscle groups in the arms and legs, and in the core body muscles. Data on several other variables were also gathered, including age, sex, education status, body mass index, levels of physical activity, lung function, vascular risk factors, vascular diseases, and genetic status for apolipoprotein E4 (the apolipoprotein E4 genetic variant is associated with Alzheimer’s disease).

Participants were followed for nearly four years, during which time 138 persons developed Alzheimer’s disease and 275 developed mild cognitive impairment.
After analyzing the results, the researchers found that increased muscle strength was associated with a slower rate of decline in all aspects of cognitive function. Those who developed Alzheimer's disease were older, had lower cognitive function, and decreased strength in several muscles compared to those participants who remained dementia-free. In fact, the stronger participants’ muscles were, the lower was their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Muscle strength was also associated with a decreased risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, which appears to be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.

These findings suggest that there may be a link between muscle strength, Alzheimer’s disease, and cognitive decline in older persons.

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