Dementia

Cognitive function is an intellectual process by which we become aware of, perceive, or comprehend ideas. It involves all aspects of perception, thinking, reasoning, and remembering.Infanthood and early childhood are the periods in life where most individuals are able to absorb and use new information the best. The capacity to learn normally slows down with age, but the overall cognitive function should not decline on a large scale in healthy individuals. Cognitive dysfunction is defined as an unusually poor mental function associated with confusion, forgetfulness and difficulty to concentrate. Factors such as ageing and disease may affect cognitive function over time. Growing evidence supports the role of vascular disease and vascular risk factors in cognitive decline, Alzheimer's Disease and dementia.

 

Dementia is a form of cognitive impairment where an individual loses the ability to think, remember and reason due to physical changes in the brain. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a form of dementia. AD and other types of dementia are most common in the elderly, and are associated with huge health costs. With a rapidly aging population throughout the world, factors that affect the risk of cognitive decline and dementia are of great importance. Recently, insulin resistance and hyperinsulineamia, the precursors of type 2 diabetes have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive impairment.

 

The moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages has consistently been associated with a decreased cardiovascular risk, so it may be hypothesized that this cardiovascular protection could also decrease vascular dementia and cognitive decline because alcohol might improve blood flow in the brain and prevent the deposit of plaques . Even though chronic abuse of alcoholic beverages can cause progressive neurodegenerative disease, many studies have suggested that a moderate intake is associated with a lower risk of dementia or cognitive impairment.

 

At present, there are no proven pharmaceutical drugs and therapies to prevent or treat cognitive decline or dementia, although a number of prospective epidemiologic studies have shown a lower risk of such conditions among light to moderate drinkers of wine and other alcoholic beverages in comparison with non-drinkers.  When the effect of different alcoholic beverages was examined, the results indicated that only moderate wine consumption was independently associated with better performance on all cognitive tests in both men and women. 

In the literature, there are many mechanisms proposed to explain these results. Wine may affect the risk factors for ischemic processes and stroke positively. It has been suggested that the antioxidant properties of the phenolic compounds in wine may help to prevent the oxidative damage implicated in dementia. Oxidative stress is thought to be involved in Alzheimer’s Disease by the formation of amyloid-ß protein and DNA damage in neurons in the brain. Resveratrol with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects may also play a role.  In addition, alcohol increases the levels of HDL cholesterol and fibrinolytic factors resulting in a lower platelet aggregation. Furthermore, moderate consumption of wine and other alcoholic beverages enhances insulin sensitivity and consequently, may improve the memory function in subjects with early AD or mild cognitive impairment.

 

It is also possible that the beneficial effects of moderate drinking noted in studies might just be a marker for an overall healthy lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet with whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil and moderate red wine also reduces the risk of dementia, as does exercise, social engagement, mental activities and an optimistic outlook on life.

 

Experimental animal studies indicated that the phenolic compounds in wine were able to prevent the formation of plaques that are associated with the development of AD and other forms of dementia.

 

The above summary provides an overview of the topic, for more details and specific questions, please refer to the articles in the database.

 

 

 

 

In this prospective follow-up study, we monitored the effects of midlife alcohol consumption and drinking patterns on cognitive impairment risks in late life. 1,486 subjects recruited from the Finnish Twin Cohort were included in the analyses. Alcohol consumption data was obtained with structured questionnaires in 1975 and 1981, and subjects were contacted between 1999 and 2007 to conduct a telephone interview evaluating cognitive function. The mean follow-up period was 22.8 years (standard deviation 2.1 years). Both abstainers and heavy drinkers were found to have an increased risk of cognitive impairment in comparison to light drinkers (relative risk ratios 1.44; 95% confidence interval: 1.02-2.10 and 1.94, 1.10-3.44, respectively. Also, binge drinking at least monthly in 1975 and 1981, as well as…
OBJECTIVE: to investigate prospectively the relationship between current alcohol consumption (quantity and type of alcohol) and incident overall dementia and Alzheimer dementia. Method: the study is based on individuals (75+) attending general practitioners in Germany: 3,202 subjects free of dementia were studied at baseline, 1.5 years and 3 years later by means of structured clinical interviews including detailed assessment of current alcohol consumption and DSM-IV dementia diagnoses. Associations between alcohol consumption (in grams of ethanol), type of alcohol (wine, beer, mixed alcohol beverages) and incident dementia were examined using Cox proportional hazard models, controlling for several confounders. RESULTS: incident overall dementia occurred in 217 of 3,202 participants over a mean follow-up period of 3 years. Significant relationships were found between…
OBJECTIVES: This study examines cognitive outcomes for alcohol drinking status over time, across cognitive ability and age groups. METHODS: Data (1998-2005) from n = 571 Seattle Longitudinal Study participants aged 45+years (middle-aged: 45-64, young-old: 65-75, old-old: 75+) were analyzed to examine the alcohol drinking status effect (e.g., abstinent, moderate (less than seven drinks/week), at-risk (more than eight drinks/week)) on cognitive ability (e.g., memory, reasoning, spatial, verbal number, speed abilities). RESULTS: Findings indicated that alcohol drinking status was associated with change in verbal ability, spatial ability, and perceptual speed. Decline in verbal ability was seen among alcohol abstainers and moderate alcohol consumers, but at-risk drinkers displayed relative stability. At-risk old-old adults and middle-aged adults (regardless of drinking status), displayed relative stability…
OBJECTIVES: The association of alcohol consumption with performance in different cognitive domains has not been well studied. METHODS: The Johns Hopkins Precursors Study was used to examine associations between prospectively collected information about alcohol consumption ascertained on multiple occasions starting at age 55 years on average with domain-specific cognition at age 72 years. Cognitive variables measured phonemic and semantic fluency, attention, verbal memory, and global cognition. RESULTS: Controlling for age, hypertension, smoking status, sex, and other cognitive variables, higher average weekly quantity and frequency of alcohol consumed in midlife were associated with lower phonemic fluency. There were no associations with four other measures of cognitive function. With respect to frequency of alcohol intake, phonemic fluency was significantly better among those…
Background - The impact of moderate alcohol consumption on cognitive function and dementia is unclear. We examined the relationship between consumption of different alcoholic beverages and cognitive function in a large population-based study. Methods - Subjects were 5033 stroke-free men and women who participated in a longitudinal population-based study in Tromsø, Norway. Alcohol consumption and other cardiovascular risk factors were measured at baseline and cognitive function was assessed after 7 years follow up with verbal memory test, digit-symbol coding test and tapping test. Results - Moderate wine consumption was independently associated with better performance on all cognitive tests in both men and women. There was no consistent association betweenconsumption of beer and spirits and cognitive test results. Alcohol abstention was…

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