Scientists find the key to predicting life expectancy in Alzheimer’s disease

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Scientists from UT Southwestern found that cognitive decline is the biggest factor in determining how long patients with Alzheimer’s disease will live after being diagnosed.

The findings are a first step that could help health care providers provide reliable prediction and planning assistance for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.

The research is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and was conducted by C. Munro Cullum et al.

In the study, the team analyzed a dataset on 764 autopsy-confirmed cases and identified seven factors that helped predict life expectancy variances among participants.

These factors are the most predictive of how many years of life remaining after diagnosis.

Of the many variables studied, performance deficiencies on a brief cognitive screening test that focuses on orientation were the most significant predictor, accounting for about 20% of the variance in life expectancy.

This was followed by sex, age, race/ethnicity, neuropsychiatric symptoms, abnormal neurological exam results, and functional impairment ratings.

The data was drawn from clinical records and autopsy reports on patients who died with Alzheimer’s disease between 2005 and 2015.

Alzheimer’s disease was confirmed by traditional abnormalities observed in brain autopsy specimens, including the presence of abnormal protein aggregation.

Life expectancy in the participants ranged from one month to 131 months after diagnosis, and most were diagnosed on their first visit.

The team explained that past studies have focused on only a few of the 21 predictors identified for life expectancy.

In this case, researchers had a complete dataset for 14 variables in this group, the largest to date.

Moreover, past studies have not been autopsy-based, thereby confounding results with data from other forms of dementia that mimic Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers caution that the prediction of life expectancy is complex and influenced by many factors.

While the cognitive test used in the study was a relatively strong predictor, they plan to follow up using more sensitive measures of memory and other specific cognitive abilities as predictors and probe how the rate of decline in cognition may track with life expectancy.

They also hope to expand the population base.

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If you care about Alzheimer’s, please read studies about the likely cause of Alzheimer’s disease and new non-drug treatment that could help prevent Alzheimer’s.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about diet that may help prevent Alzheimer’s, and results showing some dementia cases could be prevented by changing these 12 things.

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