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Smell loss could indicate early Alzheimer's disease

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 7 months ago

A recent study published in the medical journal Neurology has found a connection between the loss of smell and the later development of Alzheimer’s disease. The study focused on individuals who carry a specific gene variant known as APOE e4, which is associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer’s.

The research discovered that carriers of the APOE e4 allele tend to lose odor sensitivity before experiencing losses in odor recognition. This loss of odor sensitivity occurs well before reductions in cognitive ability, suggesting that it could serve as an early warning sign of future thinking and memory problems.

The study involved 865 participants who completed surveys testing their ability to detect and name odors every five years. DNA testing was used to identify those who carried the gene variant. The results showed that individuals with the APOE e4 allele were 37% less likely to be good at detecting odors compared to those without the variant. Changes in the ability to identify odors did not appear until later in life, between the ages of 75 to 79.

According to Dr. Leah Alexander, a board-certified pediatrician, the loss of olfactory ability may be due to the vulnerability of olfactory neurons to damage from beta-amyloid, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. She emphasized the importance of considering both genetic and environmental factors in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Alejandro Alva, founder and CEO of Pacific Neuropsychiatric Specialists, highlighted lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, such as managing high blood pressure, engaging in regular physical activity, avoiding binge drinking, and quitting smoking.

Furthermore, there are medications available that have been shown to delay the onset or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Aducanumab and lecanemab are two FDA-approved medications currently used in the management of the disease.

It is important to note that Alzheimer’s disease is a complex condition and there is no guarantee against developing it. However, by taking preventative measures and understanding one’s risk factors, individuals may be able to reduce their chances of developing this degenerative disorder.

In conclusion, the recent research linking loss of smell to Alzheimer’s disease provides valuable insights into potential early warning signs and preventive measures. By identifying and addressing risk factors, individuals may be able to reduce their likelihood of developing the disease.

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