Stress Tied to Increased Alzheimer’s Risk

Stress can have an impact on health in a wide variety of ways. For instance, those who experience high levels of stress often face a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the World Heart Foundation. A new study from Gothenburg University in Sweden found that people who deal with a high level of stressors on a day-to-day level may also have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life, according to results published in BMJ Open.

Increased vulnerability

To assess the link between stress and dementia, researchers began following the health and well-being of approximately 800 women in their 30s and 50s. Researchers kept tabs on their health over the course of nearly four decades, and during that time they underwent psychiatric exams and answered questions related to how many stressors they experienced in everyday life. At the end of the study period, 19 percent of the subjects had developed some form of dementia, and the research team found that the risk of Alzheimer’s grew by about 17 percent for each stressor.

“This suggests that common psychosocial stressors may have severe and long-standing physiological and psychological consequences,” the authors of the study wrote.

Experts are unsure why the link exists. One possible theory involves changes to hormones that have an effect on how the brain operates, making it more vulnerable to dementia. Other analysts speculate that chronic stress can cause cardiovascular issues, which also puts adults at a greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to HealthDay News.

Take appropriate action

There are many steps that adults young and old can take to reduce stress levels and increase their chances of enjoying healthy senior living. One of the best ways for seniors to relieve stress is to focus on physical activity such as tai chi and yoga. According to the Mayo Clinic, yoga has shown to be an effective way of relieving stress and anxiety. It also offers the benefits of improved flexibility, balance, range of motion and strength.

In addition to physical activity, seniors should focus on the mental aspect of stress. Positive thinking can have a significant impact on stress while also reducing the risk of depression, heart disease and improved coping skills, the Mayo Clinic notes.

Source: Tim Watt