Chronic infections linked with memory problems
People with chronic infections, such as herpes, may be at higher risk of memory problems and cognitive decline later in life, according to a new study.
Researchers analyzed data from a project called the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS), which originally began in 1990 to determine stroke risk factors in Manhattan, NY. The project involved 588 participants with an average age of 70. Scientists first collected blood samples in order to determine the participants’ past exposure to chronic infection-causing viruses and bacteria. They then had the participants take tests to provide information about their thinking skills.
The findings, which were presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in San Diego, revealed that cognitive decline was more prominent in participants with chronic infections, when compared to those with no infections. It remains uncertain, however, why there exists the link between infections and cognitive function.
Researchers said that their study is helpful in that it helps point to the origin of memory problems as people get older. However, they added that there is a long way to go in research before treatments could be developed to prevent cognitive decline.