Friday, March 13, 2020

Stress-Related Disorders May Raise Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease

People who have stress disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may have a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases, suggests a study in JAMA Neurology. The risk appears to be stronger for vascular neurodegenerative diseases (such as vascular dementia), which are caused by changes in the blood vessels, than for primary neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease).

Huan Song, M.D., Ph.D., of Sichuan University in China and colleagues used data from several Swedish registers to follow people aged 40 years or older who received their first diagnosis of a stress-related disorder between January 1987 and December 2008. Follow-up began when people were 40 years old or five years after they had been diagnosed with a stress-related disorder, whichever came later. Follow-up ended in December 2013 or when people were diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease, died, or moved away from Sweden, whichever came first. The researchers matched 61,748 people who had a stress-related disorder with 595,335 people who did not have a stress-related disorder.

Compared with those who did not have a stress-related disorder, those with a stress-related disorder had a 57% increase in risk of neurodegenerative diseases overall. They had an 80% increase in risk for vascular neurodegenerative diseases, and a 31% increase in risk for primary neurodegenerative diseases.

“[C]ardiovascular diseases are among the most well-established long-term physiological health consequences of stress-related disorders,” the researchers wrote. “Therefore, vascular factors could underlie the association of stress-related disorders with neurodegenerative diseases and may explain the relatively stronger association for vascular neurodegenerative diseases compared with primary neurodegenerative diseases.”

For related information, see the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences article “Neurodegenerative Dementias: Improving Brain Health to Decrease Risk.”

(Image: iStock/Hank Grebe)

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