Do you walk slowly in old age? If yes, then probably you are at greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease as a new study has found an interlink between the walking speed and the neurodegenerative disease. Amyloid is linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease and study authors have found that walking speed may affect the amount of amyloid present in the brain of people when they grow older.

Amyloid plaques are sticky buildup which accumulates outside nerve cells, or neurons. Amyloid is a protein that is normally found throughout the body. For reasons as yet unknown, in AD, the protein divides improperly, creating a form called beta amyloid which is toxic to neurons in the brain. According to researchers,  constantly increasing amyloid plaques leads to Alzheimer’s disease in which a patients first losses ability to remember things and at later stage suffers several behavioral abnormalities and problems with language disorientation.

How researchers conducted the study?

For the study, researchers observed 128 people with an average age of 76 years. The participants did not have dementia (a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning) but were at high risk for developing the disease since they started showing symptoms of impaired cognitive dysfunctioning. Researchers then took the positron emission tomography (PET) scans of brains through which they measured amount amyloid plaques present in the brain. Every participant also went through some thinking and memory tests and at last study authors measured standard walking speed of every participant.

What researchers found?

It was found that 48 percent had a level of amyloid often associated with dementia while the memory tests revealed that 46 percent people had mild cognitive impairment that suggests early stage of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. However, the most interesting fact that was unveiled in the study was the link between walking speed and amount of amyloid present in regions of the brain. According to researchers, the average walking speed in the study was 3.48 feet per second and nearly two-third of the participants walked with the normal speed. However, participants who walked slower than the average speed had more amount of amyloid in the brain that points toward in the future risk of Alzheimer’s.

The study appeared in the journal Neurology.

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