THURSDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The deadly march of Alzheimer's disease is slower in people aged 80 or older than the younger elderly, researchers have found.
The risk of developing Alzheimer's disease increases with age, and by 85, the risk is about 50 percent. But those who develop the progressive brain disorder that late in life will experience a less aggressive disease than those whose symptoms appear at 60 or 70 years, according to investigators at the University of California, San Diego.
Lead researcher Dominic Holland from the university's neurosciences department said doctors will need to consider these findings when assessing older patients for Alzheimer's disease.
"Methods for early detection, which will rely on biomarkers as well as mental ability, will need to take into account the age of the individuals being assessed," he said. Because the "old" elderly may deteriorate at a slower pace than younger patients, doctors may not realize these people are suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
The findings also have implications for clinical trials evaluating potential Alzheimer's treatments and cost-of-care projections for different Alzheimer's patients, Holland and other experts say.
Currently, no effective treatments exist to slow or cure Alzheimer's disease, which gradually destroys brain cells and robs people of memory, and their ability to communicate and carry out everyday tasks.
The report was published Aug. 2 in the online journal PLoS One.
To study Alzheimer's disease progression, Holland and colleagues used data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative study. They looked at more than 700 people aged 65 to 90, some with normal mental functioning, some with mild signs of dementia and others suffering from Alzheimer's.
Participants were tested every 6 or 12 months.
The researchers found that young
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