Apathy and lack of motivation in your mid-forties could be an early warning sign of dementia, study suggests

  • Cambridge researchers looked at genetic role in frontotemporal dementia 
  • Causes shrinkage in the front of the brain and can cause early-onset dementia 
  • Family members with gene were more apathetic than those with non-faulty gene
  • Researchers hope that by identifying apathy as a symptom could allow for earlier diagnosis and treatment  
  • Apathy can be an early symptom of dementia in some patients, research has suggested.

    A Cambridge University-led study indicated that apathy, defined as a lack of interest or motivation, can begin in your mid-forties – decades before other symptoms of disease. 

    Spotting the early warning sign could allow doctors to diagnose the condition earlier and allow for pre-emptive treatment. Scroll down for video

    A Cambridge University-led study indicated that apathy – defined as a lack of interest or motivation – can begin decades before other symptoms of dementia (stock)

    A Cambridge University-led study indicated that apathy – defined as a lack of interest or motivation – can begin decades before other symptoms of dementia (stock)

    The study's joint senior author, Professor James Rowe, of Cambridge's Department of Clinical Neurosciences, said that diagnosing the disease earlier would give a greater 'window of opportunity' to try to treat it.

    The study, published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association, involved 304 healthy people who carry a faulty gene that causes frontotemporal dementia, and 296 of their relatives who have normal genes.

    Frontotemporal dementia is a significant cause of dementia among younger people and is often diagnosed between the ages of 45 and 65.

    It can be genetic and about a third of patients have a family history of the condition.

    Brain scanning studies have indicated that in people with frontotemporal dementia it is caused by shrinkage in parts at the front of the brain – and the more severe the shrinkage, the worse the apathy.

    Participants in the new study were followed over several years.

    None had dementia, and most people in the study did not know whether they carried a faulty gene or not.

    The researchers looked for changes in apathy, memory tests and MRI scans of the brain.

    The study's first author, Maura Malpetti, of Cambridge University, said: 'Apathy is one of the most common symptoms in patients with frontotemporal dementia.

    'It is linked to functional decline, decreased quality of life, loss of independence and poorer survival.

    'The more we discover about the earliest effects of frontotemporal dementia, when people still feel well in themselves, the better we can treat symptoms and delay or even prevent the dementia.

    'By studying people over time, rather than just taking a snapshot, we revealed how even subtle changes in apathy predicted a change in cognition, but not the other way around.

    'We also saw local brain shrinkage in areas that support motivation and initiative, many years before the expected onset of symptoms.'

    People with the genetic mutations had more apathy than other members of their family. 

    Living in areas of high air pollution makes it MORE likely people will get dementia

    Elderly people who are exposed to air pollution are at increased risk of dementia, especially if they have cardiovascular disease, a study has found.

    Swedish researchers discovered elderly patients living in urban areas of Stockholm with more polluted air were associated with the onset of dementia.

    The study found air pollution was linked to dementia through a common link — presence or development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). 

    The researchers now suggest that elderly people living in any urban area globally may require additional support from care providers to prevent dementia.The apathy predicted cognitive decline, and this accelerated as they approached the estimated age of onset of symptoms.

    Professor Rowe said the study highlights the importance of investigating why someone has apathy.

    'There are many reasons why someone feels apathetic,' he said.

    'It may well be an easy-to-treat medical condition, such as low levels of thyroid hormone, or a psychiatric illness such as depression.

    'But doctors need to keep in mind the possibility of apathy heralding a dementia, and increasing the chance of dementia if left unaddressed, particularly if someone has a family history of dementia.

    'Treating dementia is a challenge, but the sooner we can diagnose the disease, the greater our window of opportunity to try and intervene and slow or stop its progress.'

    Dr Richard Oakley, head of research at Alzheimer's Society, said: 'There are no treatments at all for frontotemporal dementia (FTD), so it's exciting to see this adding a new piece of the FTD puzzle.

    'As this just looked at the third of people who get FTD genetically, we don't yet know if apathy could also be an early indicator or predict progression in the other two-thirds who develop FTD out of the blue.

    'We don't currently have an accurate way to identify someone at risk of FTD, so we're hoping this can work with our own research on spotting early brain changes occurring in genetic FTD to take us a step closer – we need more dementia research funding to get us there faster and give hope to people at risk.'


No comments:

Powered by Blogger.