Infection, Inflammation, and Memory Loss

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

A study out of the University of Southampton and published this month in Neurology is generating lots of coverage in the popular press. Most of the headlines indicate that infection accelerates memory loss but the story must be considered a bit more carefully.

First of all, it must be considered that the participants in this study all had Alzheimer's disease. Although it is important to understand the health factors that might exacerbate cognitive decline due to Alzheimer's disease, it is also important not to generalize these findings too broadly beyond the scope of the research. Importantly, this study did not conclude, as some headlines suggest, that every common cold will reduce your ability to store and retrieve information from memory.

Secondly, the study focused on the presence of inflammation (as a surrogate marker for infection) and its relationship to cognitive decline. Researchers have known for some time that there is a relationship, albeit a poorly understood relationship, between inflammation and memory loss. This study suggests that there may be a connection between infection and memory loss but makes no bold conclusions about what that connection entails.

Bottom line: many of the headlines I have seen on this study have overstated the strength of any proven relationship between infection (which can cause inflammation) and memory loss.

A better understanding and more awareness of Alzheimer's related issues can impact personal health decisions and generate significant impact across a population of aging individuals. Please use the share button below to spread this educational message as widely as possible.

1 comment :

  1. my husband had West Nile Virus 2 1/2 years ago. Since then his verbal cognition has suffered - he can remember things but cannot find the name or word he is looking for -- however, eventually he does find it.