HEALTH WATCH -- It's a difficult disease for friends and family members to watch their loved ones go through. Not to mention the difficulties for patients suffering from Alzheimer's. But now there's new information about a possible silent risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. There is encouraging news that could help improve a patient's chances of early detection and prevention. There are now more than five million people in the United States living with Alzheimer's disease. Studies of people who have died from Alzheimer's disease have revealed many signs of inflammation in their brains. To see whether there might be a link between blood markers of inflammation and an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, researchers conducted a new study following 290 older people. At the start of the study, none of the participants had signs of dementia, and all underwent blood tests to look for markers of inflammation. Researchers found that, over the course of the next five years, people with the highest levels of inflammation were twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Experts say that it's too soon to know exactly if or how inflammation directly contributes to dementia risk. The one study done so far suggests that painkillers that reduce general inflammation in the body do not reduce the risk for Alzheimer's disease. More research is underway now to examine whether reducing specific inflammatory proteins in the body might lower the odds of developing Alzheimer's.
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