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Brain and Mental Performance

Viral Infection Linked to Mental Decline in Seniors

16 years, 11 months ago

2802  0
Posted on Aug 31, 2003, 11 a.m. By Bill Freeman

Results of a study by researchers from Finland have linked some viral infections with mental decline.  Dr Timo E Strandberg from the University of Helsinki, and colleagues studied 383 elderly people with cardiovascular disease. Results showed that people who had been infected with either cytomegalovirus (CMV) or the herpes simplex virus (HSV) type I or II were significantly more likely to suffer from mental impairment.

Results of a study by researchers from Finland have linked some viral infections with mental decline.  Dr Timo E Strandberg from the University of Helsinki, and colleagues studied 383 elderly people with cardiovascular disease. Results showed that people who had been infected with either cytomegalovirus (CMV) or the herpes simplex virus (HSV) type I or II were significantly more likely to suffer from mental impairment. Participants who tested positive for both CMV and HSV had a 2.5-fold increased risk of mental impairment. The authors also found that mental ability at the start of the study was inversely related to viral levels. At follow-up two years later, mental function was found to have decreased in 43% of participants. However, compared with participants who tested negative for both viruses or positive for just one virus, those who tested positive for both viruses were 2.3-times more likely to have experienced mental decline over the course of the two-year-long study. Strandberg says that inflammation has been implicated in the development of dementia, and that his findings suggest that viral infection "could be a triggering factor." He also suggests that existing therapies such as antiviral drugs and vaccinations could prove useful for preventing and treating dementia.

SOURCE/REFERENCE: Stroke, Aug 2003; 10.1161/01.STR.0000086754.32238.DA
Published online before print August 14th, 2003.

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