Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Shows Cognitive Decline Is Not Normal In Aging

Date:
July 9, 1999
Source:
University Of California, Davis - Medical Center
Summary:
In a study that tracked changes in cardiovascular health and cognitive function in 5,888 community-dwelling senior citizens annually over a ten-year period, researchers at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center say cognitive decline is not a normal part of aging for the majority of elderly people.

Finding opens door to prevention by showing older people with atherosclerosis or diabetes in combination with the ApoE4 gene are at much higher risk for memory loss, cognitive decline.

Related Articles


(Sacramento, Calif.) -- In a study that tracked changes in cardiovascular health and cognitive function in 5,888 community-dwelling senior citizens annually over a ten-year period, researchers at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center say cognitive decline is not a normal part of aging for the majority of elderly people. In fact, only people with high levels of atherosclerosis or diabetes and also those with the apolipoprotein E4 gene associated with Alzheimer's disease are both at high risk for a decline in cognitive ability as they age. The results of the study are reported in the July 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Seventy percent of individuals evaluated in this study showed no significant decline in cognitive function over the study period," says Mary N. Haan, director of the UC Davis Center for Aging and Health and lead author of the study. "We found that individuals whose cognitive ability remained constant during the study had two factors in common: they did not carry any of the apolipoprotein E4 genes, which is often associated with Alzheimer's disease, and they had little or no signs of diabetes or atherosclerosis."

In comparison, the researchers found that the greatest loss of cognitive ability occurred in people who had both high levels of atherosclerosis or diabetes and an Apo4E gene. These individuals were eight times more likely to show a decline in function compared to people with a low level of atherosclerosis and no genetic predisposition. Individuals with an E4 allele were three-to-four times more likely to show a decline in function than individuals without this genotype. And those with high levels of atherosclerosis were three times more likely to show a loss of function than those individuals without atherosclerosis.

"Other studies of the elderly have shown that people with the ApoE4 gene have a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease," says Haan. "But it was not clear what role atherosclerosis or diabetes might play. Our study is good news because it means that we may be able to reduce the risk of cognitive impairment, or even dementia, even in those who have a genetic predisposition for it by preventing atherosclerosis. We know a lot about preventing cardiovascular disease and not much about preventing cognitive impairment or dementia."

Each person in the study had a clinical assessment every year and answered questions about their health to track past history and incidence of diabetes and vascular diseases, including heart attack, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, coronary artery bypass graft, the use of a pacemaker, stroke, or transient ischemic attack. Researchers identified early signs of vascular disease by measuring systolic blood pressure, carotid artery wall thickness with ultrasound, major ECG abnormalities and atrial fibrillation from ECG.

Cognitive function is defined as the intellectual process by which one becomes aware of, perceives, or comprehends ideas. It involves all aspects of perception, thinking, reasoning and remembering. The cognitive tests used in the study - the modified mini-mental state exam and the digit symbol substitution test - assessed short- and long-term memory, spatial abilities, mental processing speed and many other related cognitive abilities. These included recalling their date and country of birth, counting from 1 to 5 and then backwards again, naming specific body parts such as an arm or leg, identifying an animal that had four legs, recognizing associations between similar objects and activities, and following simple directions, such as folding a piece of paper in half.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California, Davis - Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California, Davis - Medical Center. "Study Shows Cognitive Decline Is Not Normal In Aging." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990709083306.htm>.
University Of California, Davis - Medical Center. (1999, July 9). Study Shows Cognitive Decline Is Not Normal In Aging. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990709083306.htm
University Of California, Davis - Medical Center. "Study Shows Cognitive Decline Is Not Normal In Aging." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990709083306.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 9 out of 10 excessive drinkers in the country are not alcohol dependent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins