Stress in middle age raises dementia risk

Stress in middle age can increase a woman's risk of dementia by up to a fifth, research suggests.

Stressful life events can raise a woman's dementia risk
Stressful life events can raise a woman's dementia risk

Coping with distress causes long-term physiological changes in the brain that raise the risk of developing the disease, researchers said.

The study of 800 Swedish women born between 1914 and 1930 found that women experiencing a number of stressful events in middle age had a 20% greater risk of Alzheimer's disease and a 15% raised risk of any type of dementia.

Starting in 1968, the women underwent psychological checks at regular intervals until 2005, including questionnaires about stressful life events.

In 1968, one in four women had experienced at least one stressful event such as divorce, serious illness, death of a child or a partner's unemployment.

Between 1968 and 2005, a total of 425 women died, while one in five developed dementia.

Those experiencing a number of stressful events were more likely to develop dementia even when accounting for factors such as a family history of mental health.

Writing in BMJ Open, the researchers from Gothenberg University suggested that 'stress may cause a number of physiological reactions in the central nervous, endocrine, immune and cardiovascular systems'.

They added that previous studies had shown that stress can cause structural and functional brain damage and lead to inflammation.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Whitehall street sign

NHS officials doubled in two years as GP workforce dropped

Staff employed by NHS England and the DHSC doubled in two years from the start of...

Child coughing

NICE traffic light tool that helps GPs spot seriously ill under-5s 'unreliable'

NICE's 'traffic light' system - intended to help GPs identify risk of serious illness...

Pregnant woman receives COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccine uptake in pregnant women rising but stark inequality remains

More than half of pregnant women are now double vaccinated against COVID-19 as uptake...

Vaccination tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK have led the largest-ever NHS vaccination programme in response...

GMC sign

Overseas-graduate GPs fare worse in medical tribunals due to lack of legal help

UK GPs who graduated overseas face worse outcomes in GMC cases because they are far...

Woman using HRT patch

Practical advice for GPs on prescribing HRT

GP menopause specialists Dr Louise Newson and Dr Olivia Jones provides an overview...