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Slow Walking Pace May Signal Alzheimer's

First Posted: Dec 03, 2015 12:26 PM EST
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Seniors who walk slower may have higher amounts of a protein in their brain linked to Alzheimer's, according to a recent study.

Researcher discovered a modest association between higher levels of amyloid plaques and slower walking speeds among older adults accounted for 9 percent of the difference in walking speeds between faster and slower walkers. Amyloid plaques are one of the main abnormalities that cause Alzheimer's disease (AD).

"It's possible that having subtle walking disturbances in addition to memory concerns may signal Alzheimer's disease, even before people show any clinical symptoms," said lead author Dr. Natalia del Campo of the Gerontopole and the Centre of Excellence in Neurodegeneration of Toulouse (University Hospital Toulouse), in a statement.

During the study, researchers looked at 128 elderly individuals 70 and older who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's due to memory issues. Findings showed that those who walked slower tended to have higher amyloid plaque buildup.

To measure this buildup, participants underwent various brain scans--taking various tests to check mobility as well as memory and thinking skills. Researchers also measured their walking pace and determined how long they could walk 13 feet at normal pace. The average speed was about 3.5 feed per second, researchers say.
However, they noted that amyloid buildup in the brain does not cause slow walking speed but is more associated with the problem. In other words, other things may be responsible for slow walking.

"It's possible that having subtle walking disturbances in addition to memory concerns may signal Alzheimer's disease, even before people show any clinical symptoms," study author Natalia del Campo, PhD, of the Gerontopole and the Centre of Excellence in Neurodegeneration of Toulouse (University Hospital Toulouse), said in a statement.

The study is published in the journal Neurology.

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