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Date:                 July 11, 2008

Contact:            Gina Dapuzzo

Phone:              (732) 292-1100


Senior Population Showing Decrease In Cognitive Impairment

MANASQUAN, N.J. -- The number of elderly with cognitive impairment has decreased by 3.5 percent, according to a study from researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School.

The study was published online in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

The national study measured the prevalence of any sort of cognitive impairment from dementia to Alzheimer’s in seniors 70 years of age or older between 1993 and 2002. The percent went from 12.2 in 1993 to 8.7 in 2002, according to the study.

The decline in the cognitive impairment may be due to a variety of factors such as increased formal education, higher economic status and better control of health issues like blood pressure, according to researchers.

The least likely to have cognitive problems were those with more education and wealth in the 11,000 seniors, according to the study.

“From these results, we can say that brain health among older Americans seems to have improved in the decade studied,” said Dr. Kenneth Langa, lead author of the study, “and that education and wealth may be a big piece of the puzzle.”

“So what we may be seeing here is the accumulated effects of better education and better cardiovascular prevention among the people who were over age 70 in 2002, compared with those who were over age 70 in 1993,” he said.

Another reason for the decline may be the increase in cholesterol-lowering and blood pressure drugs in the 1990s, according to the study.

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