Doctors who work with dementia patients have long suspected that people who don’t recognize they are experiencing memory problems may deteriorate faster than those who realize they are having issues with their memory. Now, a study conducted by researchers at McGill University in Montreal confirms this.
People with Alzheimer’s disease often experience a neurological problem called anosognosia, which inhibits their ability to understand they have a medical condition. The new study, published in Neurology, suggests patients with this lack of awareness have a higher risk of developing dementia within two years.
The researchers evaluated 450 patients with mild memory problems. For the study, the patients and close relatives were asked to rate the patients’ cognitive abilities. Those who reported no cognitive problems while relatives reported significant difficulties were found to have anosognosia. In a two-year follow-up, these patients had more markers for Alzheimer’s, when adjusting for other factors like genetic risk for dementia.