Specialists at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School claim that people who experience a feeling of loneliness are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. A team of scientists conducted an extensive study which included 79 healthy people.
They aimed to figure out whether the brain amyloid levels were the primary factor influencing the development of the disease. It is worth mentioning that this protein is the one that triggers Alzheimer’s.
The Study’s Results
The researchers also accounted for other factors such as social networks, anxiety levels, socioeconomic status, genetics, depression, age, and gender, while age is the most important one because the first signs of Alzheimer’s occur in senior patients over 50 years old.
At the end of the study, they concluded that patients with preclinical Alzheimer’s had a 7.5-time higher risk of experiencing a feeling of loneliness compared to the participants who experienced no symptoms related to the disease.
What is the Feeling of Loneliness?
Scientists underline that they haven’t found a cause-and-effect link but only that the early signs of this condition might be associated with the feeling of loneliness. More precisely, it was quite challenging for the team to establish if social isolation could be labeled as a cause or as a symptom.
Nevertheless, specialists believe that these findings will play a major role in helping them spot the disease in its early stages. Current research on Alzheimer’s is focused on prevention and early detection.
According to Dr. Nancy Donovan, lead researcher of the study, the team focused on analyzing the amyloid levels in the brain, while the study included only healthy patients and those with higher risks of developing the disease.
Dr. Clare Walton, an Alzheimer’s Society researcher, explains that the amyloid protein is the one that accumulates for several years until Alzheimer’s or dementia become detectable.
Public health experts firmly believe that Alzheimer’s is a preventable disease which can be tackled easily if people improve their lifestyle by switching to healthier dietary habits and weekly physical exercises.
More precisely, setting your weekly fitness goals to at least 150 minutes of physical exercises will significantly reduce the level of stress, as your brain will become more active as well.
Thanks to these findings, doctors might be trained in the following years to spot social impulsiveness, apathy, mood swings, and the feeling of loneliness as early symptoms of this condition.