Trending Clinical Topic: Neurodegenerative Disease

Ryan Syrek


November 15, 2019

Each week, we identify one top search term, speculate as to what caused its popularity, and provide an infographic on a related condition. If you have thoughts about what's trending and why, feel free to share them with us on Twitter or Facebook.

From athletes at risk to studies focused on prevention and identifying risk factors, new information about conditions related to dementia made neurodegenerative disease this week's top trending clinical topic. A study of more than 7000 former professional soccer players showed that they have a considerably increased risk for death from neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson disease. The players had a fivefold increased mortality risk from AD, a fourfold increased risk of dying from motor neuron disease/ALS, and a twofold increased mortality risk from PD.

For patients who may worry about developing neurocognitive disease, a large follow-up study found that two quick tests—a cognitive screen and an olfactory test—may rule out future dementia. The vast majority of participants whose scores on both the Brief Smell Identification Test (B-SIT) and the Blessed Orientation Memory Concentration Test (BOMC) indicated that they were unimpaired did not develop dementia during an average follow-up of 4 years. The hope is that this approach may alleviate the need for imaging studies or lumbar puncture to identify biomarkers of AD.

In terms of risk factors to watch for, a new study found that higher serum trans-fat levels are associated with a significantly increased risk for dementia, including AD. Those with the highest levels of serum elaidic acid, which is associated with vegetable oils, had a 53% increased risk for dementia and a 43% higher likelihood of developing AD, compared with those who had the lowest levels. Meanwhile, a panel of experts at the XXIV World Congress of Neurology concluded that reducing the incidence of strokes is the key to reducing the incidence of dementia. They believe that by addressing the modifiable risk factors for stroke, the occurrence and impact of neurocognitive disease may possibly be reduced. Elsewhere, a study of more than 80,000 individuals from a national sample of high school students in 1960 found that adolescents who rated higher on the "vigor" scale were 7% less likely to develop dementia five decades later. Calmness and maturity were also associated with lower dementia risk, but only when linked to families with higher socioeconomic status.

From identifying populations at risk to strategies for screening and newly identified associations, an abundance of research made neurodegenerative disease this week's top trending clinical topic.

Read more about dementia pathology.


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