July 25, 2024

Chronic Stress Increases the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease by Two-Fold

Chronic stress can have detrimental effects on the body, leading to increased risks of various health conditions such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. However, a recent study suggests that chronic stress may also significantly impact our brain health.

Researchers from Karolinska Institutet conducted a study using the healthcare database of Region Stockholm. They analyzed data from 44,447 patients, aged between 18 and 65, who were diagnosed with chronic stress and/or chronic depression between 2012 and 2013. Chronic stress was defined as a condition where symptoms persist for at least six months.

After eight years of monitoring, the researchers found that patients with chronic stress were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or some form of cognitive impairment compared to a cohort of 1,362,548 individuals in the same age range. The risk increased further if the chronic stress was coupled with depression, reaching a four-fold increase.

It is essential to note that although the risk is still relatively small, and the study does not establish causality, the findings provide valuable insights into the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and the understanding of its risk factors. Previous research has already highlighted the association between chronic stress, depression, and dementia. This study demonstrates that individuals with chronic stress have a higher likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease within the following decade, even at a reasonably young age.

Dr. Axel C. Carlsson, the study author from the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society at Karolinska Institutet, emphasized the importance of identifying all possible risk factors for dementia in this age group. While the causal relationship between chronic stress and Alzheimer’s disease is yet to be determined, addressing immediate health concerns, such as chronic stress and depression, and implementing strategies for monitoring at-risk individuals for early signs of cognitive decline, are crucial steps in mitigating the impact of the disease.

Furthermore, this study underscores the significance of recognizing and treating chronic stress as a severe health condition, rather than dismissing it as an inevitable aspect of daily life. By raising awareness about the potential implications of chronic stress on brain health, healthcare professionals can prioritize both the immediate health concerns and long-term cognitive well-being of individuals.

Although this study has its limitations, as it does not consider other lifestyle factors, it provides compelling evidence that chronic stress may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Further research is necessary to establish a definitive causal link. Nonetheless, the findings underscore the urgency of addressing chronic stress and implementing measures to promote mental well-being as part of a comprehensive approach to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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