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Muscle Strength May Lower Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

Last Updated: November 11, 2009.

Older individuals with greater muscular strength may have a lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease, according to research published in the November issue of the Archives of Neurology.

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Older individuals with greater muscular strength may have a lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease, according to research published in the November issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Patricia A. Boyle, Ph.D., of the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from 970 subjects free of dementia at baseline. Participants underwent measurement of the strength of numerous muscle groups, which were used to create a composite strength measure. Subjects had a mean age of 80.3 years and were followed for a mean of 3.6 years.

The researchers found that each unit of additional muscle strength at baseline was associated with a 43 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's disease. Those in the 90th percentile for strength had about a 61 percent lower risk compared to those in the 10th percentile. In addition, increased muscle strength was associated with a lower risk of mild cognitive impairment, with those in the 90th percentile having approximately a 48 percent lower risk.

"These findings suggest a link between muscle strength, Alzheimer's disease, and cognitive decline in older persons," the authors conclude. "The basis of the association of muscle strength with Alzheimer's disease is unknown. Although decreased muscle strength may represent a true risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, it is more likely that loss of muscle strength is the result of an underlying disease process that also leads to cognitive decline and clinical Alzheimer's disease."

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