Assessing the risk factors for dementia

Over the years, I’ve taken part in a number of health studies and trials. I like to contribute to the overall health of the nation and it does me no harm to be regularly checked across various health dimensions. I’ve now been invited to participate in a new trial to assess the risk factors associated with the onset of dementia.

The formal Protocol Title is as follows: Cognitive Health in Ageing Register: Investigational, Observational, and Trial studies in dementia research: Prospective Readiness cOhort Study (CHARIOT:PRO for short). Comparison of the ADCS-PACC and RBANS in Participants Asymptomatic at-risk for Alzheimer’s Dementia

For this substudy, the Neuroepidemiology and Ageing Research Unit (NEA) of Imperial College, London is inviting volunteers aged 60-85 years who are eligible and have no diagnosis of dementia. The substudy is planned to involve up to 500 people in 2 sites in London and Edinburgh, each followed up for 3.5 years.
This study involves lots of investigations, and so a high level of commitment is needed – usually 4 visits in the first 3 months, followed by one visit every 3 months thereafter. In order to take part, I must have a Study Partner, someone who knows me well and can accompany me to study visits approximately 4 times over the course of the 3.5 years. My sister has kindly agreed to be my Study Partner.

Why are they conducting the substudy?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive degenerative disorder of the brain and the most frequent cause of dementia. The study plans to measure cognition, biomarkers indicating a potential risk of dementia, and lifestyles of individuals whose cognition is presently intact, over a period of several years in order to gain a better insight into the factors influencing cognitive decline. They hope that this substudy will provide important information that will improve our understanding of the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease before overt symptoms are made apparent. This will help to identify opportunities for the right kind of effective intervention with the ultimate goal to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease. This substudy will:

  1. Measure cognition (thinking, memory and function) and worsening over time.
  2. Study genetic and other biologic risks of Alzheimer’s disease and worsening over time.
  3. Examine how lifestyle (such as education, diet and exercise) may affect the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Explore if physical activity and sleep quality may affect the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

As well as exploring how genetic and other biological information is associated with changes of mental function over time, this substudy will in particular attempt to identify the most sensitive tests of thinking and function in people who have high Beta-amyloid (amyloid) levels in their brains compared to an equal number of those who have lower levels of amyloid in their brains. Amyloid is a protein that forms dense plaques on the outside of brain cells. While most individuals, over the age of 60, have variable amounts of amyloid in their brains, research indicates that it may be one of several risk factors associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

It will be an interesting project …

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