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Stress may contribute to cognitive decline

Category: General Health

Cortisol testing may benefit individuals who are concerned about developing dementia or have a family history of the illness, as a new study published in the journal, Brain, found that high stress levels during middle age may contribute to cognitive decline later in life.

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden recruited nearly 1,500 women between the ages of 38 and 60. The study began in 1968. Researchers then examined participants for brain health five times between the beginning of the study and its conclusion in 2003.

The risk of developing dementia was 65 percent higher in women who reported repeated periods of stress during the study than women who reported little stress.

"This is the first study to show that stress in middle age can lead to dementia in old age, and confirms similar findings from studies of animals," said Lena Johansson, who led the study. "Stress has previously been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart attack and hypertension."

She added that controlling stress may play an important role in healthy aging.

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