Study: Dementia patients lose weight prior to disease onset

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People with dementia may experience dementia-associated weight loss before the onset of definite dementia symptoms, and this weight loss accelerates by the time of the diagnosis, according to a new report.

Results of the study suggest that weight change and nutritional state in people with dementia should be monitored from the time of diagnosis, if not at earlier stages of the disease.

While it has been known that weight loss is common among those with Alzheimer's disease, this information previously has been documented in people who already have dementia, according to an article in the January issue of Archives of Neurology, a journal from the American Medical Association.

Authors wrote it is important to consider the extent to which weight loss can be prevented in these patients. Poor nutrition and frailty frequently complicate later stages of dementia, causing falls, poor wound healing, and increased physical dependence.