Falls 'may predict Alzheimer's'

Posted on 20 July 2011

People paying for care who have difficulty balancing and often fall may be experiencing the onset of Alzheimer's, research has shown.

Researchers at Washington University in St Louis found that people with brain changes indicative of early Alzheimer's disease were more prone to falling than those who had comparatively healthy brains.

Typically, around one in three adults over the age of 65 fall each year. However, in those participants with high amyloid levels in the brain - a characteristic of Alzheimer's - two-thirds fell within the first eight months of the study.

Lead author Susan Stark explained: "If you meet these people on the street, they appear healthy and have no obvious cognitive problems.

"But they have changes in their brain that look similar to Alzheimer’s disease, and they have twice the typical annual rate of falls for their age group."

This follows research at the University of Pennsylvania which revealed that experiencing a single traumatic brain injury could trigger an Alzheimer's-like process in the brain, even in young adults.

Posted by Natalie Edwards

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