High stress levels can lead to greater memory loss among patients at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a new US study.
The researchers genotyped and measured the chronic stress level in 91 healthy subjects with a mean age of 78.8 years.
They found that those low on stress or without the APOE-e4 risk factor performed better on memory measures than those with high stress or positive for APOE-e4.
Those individuals experiencing high stress and who were positive for APOE-e4 experienced the greatest memory impairment.
Previous studies have shown that people who inherit one copy of the APOE-e4 allele have an increased chance of developing Alzheimer's and those who inherit two copies of the allele are at even greater risk. The APOE-e4 allele is associated with an increased number of protein clumps in the brain tissue of people with the condition.
Author Guerry Peavy said: "The results of the study have implications for interventions that could prevent harmful responses to stressful experiences and, as a result, could prevent or slow the progression of cognitive changes in genetically vulnerable, older individuals."