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Subjective Cognitive Decline Often Sign of Worse to Come

Last Updated: January 14, 2010.

Subjective cognitive impairment is often a harbinger of future deterioration, according to a study in the January issue of Alzheimer's & Dementia.

THURSDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Subjective cognitive impairment is often a harbinger of future deterioration, according to a study in the January issue of Alzheimer's & Dementia.

Barry Reisberg, M.D., of the New York University School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues conducted a study of 213 people aged 40 years and above who either had subjective cognitive impairment or no cognitive impairment, and who were recruited to the study over a period of 14 years and observed over 18 years.

After a mean 6.8 years of follow-up, seven (14.9 percent) of the no cognitive impairment participants and 90 (54.2 percent) of the subjective cognitive impairment participants experienced more decline, the researchers found. Among the subjective cognitive impairment group, 71 developed mild cognitive impairment and 19 were diagnosed with dementia, compared to five of the non-decliners who went on to develop mild cognitive impairment, and two who were given a probable Alzheimer's disease diagnosis.

"We conclude that in parallel with continuing investigations clarifying the nature and prognosis of subjective cognitive impairment, the present findings raise the exciting possibility of conducting preventative studies of mild cognitive impairment and eventual Alzheimer's disease at a much earlier point than previously, approximately one to two decades before the appearance of overt dementia," the authors write. "It is possible that some medications might be most efficacious in the subjective cognitive impairment stage of the evolution of the illness process."

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