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Attention lapses 'could be precursor to Alzheimer's'

Attention lapses 'could be precursor to Alzheimer's'
21st January 2010

Losing a train of thought, drowsiness and the act of staring off into space could all be early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study in the US.

Researchers across the Atlantic concluded that people with three different symptoms of mental lapses of this kind are 4.6 times more likely to have dementia than those who do not.

Additionally, those with mental lapses would have more severe Alzheimer's disease indicators and would generally perform worse on memory and thinking tests.

James Galvin, a Washington University neurologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St Louis, said that these lapses do not simply mean a person has Alzheimer's disease.

"Such lapses do occur in healthy older adults," he continued. "But our results suggest that they are something your doctor needs to consider if he or she is evaluating you for problems with thinking and memory."

It follows the revelation from University College London that by putting harmless fluorescent dye on the retina, eye specialists can spot dying cells which are a key characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.

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