Damaged kidney function may cause cognitive decline in old age

September 29th, 2009 - 5:10 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Sep 29 (ANI): Impaired kidney function may lead to cognitive decline in old age, according to a new study.

Conducted by researchers at Rush University Medical Center, the study found that poor kidney function was linked specifically with cognition related to memory functions.

Damage to one of these functions, episodic memory, which retrieves memories of time, place, associated emotions and other contextual knowledge, is often the earliest sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Given the dearth of modifiable risk factors for age-related cognitive decline, these results have important public health implications. Further work to understand the link between kidney function and the brain may provide new strategies for preventing memory loss in elders,” said Dr. Aron Buchman, a neuroscientist in the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

He said that the findings show that there are common disease processes that affect both the brain and the kidneys in the elderly.

Buchman also hypothesized that underlying vascular problems, such as diabetes and hypertension, may account for the association between kidney problems and cognitive decline.

The study analysed data for 886 older adults who participated in the Rush Memory and Aging Project, a group of community-dwelling seniors with a mean age of 81, all of them initially free of dementia.

The participants were examined annually for up to six years to track changes in cognition over time.

The researchers ruled out the influence of factors like aging and medications, which can affect cognition.

They found that poor kidney function, assessed at the beginning of the study, was linked with a more rapid rate of decline in cognition over the next several years - not in visuospatial ability or perceptual speed, but in three specific areas: episodic, semantic and working memory.

Buchman said that the rate of decline in cognition was equivalent to that of a person seven years older at baseline.

The study has been published in the journal Neurology. (ANI)

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