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Chronic Inflammation In Middle Age May Increase Risk of Cognitive Decline Later In Life

Chronic inflammation is a low-grade inflammation that lingers for months or even years in the body. Symptoms include joint pain or stiffness, digestive problems, and fatigue. A new study has found that chronic inflammation in middle age may lead to cognitive decline later in life.


12,336 people who were part of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study participated in this study. Blood samples were taken at the start of the study to measure four biomarkers of inflammation: fibrinogen, white blood cell count, von Willebrand factor, and factor VIII. The researchers created a composite inflammation score for the four biomarkers. C-reactive levels were measured three years into the study. Participants’ thinking and memory skills were tested at baseline, six to nine years later, and at the end of the study.


Participants with the highest levels of inflammation biomarkers were found to have an 8% higher decline in thinking and memory skills compared to those with the lowest levels of inflammation biomarkers. Participants with the highest C-reactive protein levels had a 12% higher decline in thinking and memory compared to those with the lowest levels. These results held even after researchers adjusted for other factors such as education, heart disease, and high blood pressure.


The study was conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University. It was published online ahead of print on February 13, 2019 in the journalNeurology.

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