Artist's rendering of a brain cell damaged by amyloid beta plaque in Alzheimer's disease

Nearly half of the people with Alzheimer’s disease have a mild case of the disease at any given time, according to a new analysis of a global study. The findings highlight the need for early intervention and prevention, researchers say.

Data for the current analysis was drawn from participants aged 50 to 94 with mild cognitive impairment or clinical Alzheimer’s dementia. Results were pooled across three time windows. 

Among participants with Alzheimer’s dementia, half of the cases were mild, approximately one-third were moderate, and 19% were severe, reported lead author Rhoda Au, Ph.D., of the Boston University School of Medicine. What’s more, people with mild Alzheimer’s dementia plus those with progressive MCI made up 45% of a combined group of participants.

The takeaway? “The finding that half of the people living with Alzheimer’s dementia have mild disease underscores the need for research and interventions to slow decline or prevent progression of this burdensome disease,” the researchers wrote.

“It is crucial to determine risk factors or develop therapies that could alter the disease trajectory to improve individuals’ quality of life and alleviate the socio-economic burden,” Au concluded.

Recent studies have linked healthy lifestyle actions such as regular moderate exercise and lifelong learning to a lower risk of dementia, or slower dementia progression. Good blood pressure control in people with hypertension has also been linked to lower risk.

The current study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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