Anxiety May Worsen Cognition in People With Elevated Amyloid-β

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Anxiety May Worsen Cognition in People With Elevated Amyloid-β
Anxiety May Worsen Cognition in People With Elevated Amyloid-β

HealthDay News — Older adults with elevated amyloid-β (Aβ) levels and anxiety are at greater risk of cognitive decline, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Robert H. Pietrzak, PhD, from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in West Haven, Conn., and colleagues examined the correlation between Aβ status and cognitive changes in a multicenter, prospective study. Three hundred thirty-three healthy, older adults underwent assessments at baseline and at 18, 36, and 54 months.

The researchers found that positive Aβ (Aβ+) status at baseline correlated with a significant reduction in global cognition, verbal memory, language, and executive function; these correlations were moderated by elevated anxiety symptoms. Slopes of cognitive decline were significantly more pronounced in the Aβ+ high-anxiety group than in the Aβ+ low-anxiety group, with Cohen d values of 0.78, 0.54, 0.51, and 0.39 for global cognition, verbal memory, language, and executive function, respectively. The effects were independent of confounding variables such as age, educational level, APOE genotype, subjective memory complaints, and depressive symptoms. The correlation between Aβ and cognitive decline was not moderated by depressive symptoms or subjective memory complaints.

"Given that there is currently no standard antiamyloid therapy and that anxiety symptoms are amenable to treatment, these findings may help inform risk stratification and management of the preclinical phase of Alzheimer's disease," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to Cogstate Ltd., which provided some of the cognitive tests used in this study and contributed funding to the study.

Reference

  1. Pietrzak R et al. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015; doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.2476.
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