Report: Alzheimer's brain pathologies found in physically frail seniors

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Physically frail seniors are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease pathologies in the brain, even if they do not develop dementia, than more robust older adults, according to a recent report.

Scientists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago performed autopsies on the brains of 165 study participants. While alive, each participant had been given a battery of tests to determine strength, agility and body mass index. After comparing the results of the autopsy with the results of an individual's strength test, researchers discovered a pattern. Those who exhibited high levels of Alzheimer's pathology in the brain—meaning the “plaques and tangles" commonly associated with the disease—were, on average, twice as frail as those without the pathologies.

Researchers say these findings could change conventional wisdom when it comes to Alzheimer's. This report indicates that physical frailty could be a sign of the disease, which is typically associated with poor cognitive functioning. The report was published in the August 12 issue of the journal Neurology.