February 27, 2015
1 min read

Memory problems in patients with FM not linked to risk for Alzheimer's

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Patients with fibromyalgia and severe episodes of memory problems or cognitive dysfunction, known as “fibrofog,” were not at higher risk for the development of Alzheimer’s disease, which has a different profile of memory loss, according to new research.

Frank Leavitt, PhD and Robert S. Katz, MD, of Rush Medical College in Chicago, studied 149 female patients with fibromyalgia (FM) confirmed by the American College of Rheumatology criteria. Based on a pre-examination questionnaire, in which patients were asked to report the duration of their memory problems, patients were divided into two cohorts: one with 94 participants who reported short-term cognitive problems (≤12 months; mean: 7.3 months), and one with 55 patients who reported long-term cognitive problems (≥84 months; mean: 13.3 years).

Robert S. Katz

Patients were administered 12 tests related to cognition and function, including the Stroop Color and Word test, Controlled Oral Word Test, Logical Memory and Paired Associates, Trail-Making Tests A and B, Paced Serial Arithmetic Test and Beck Depression Inventory. Patients were also assessed for intelligence, vocabulary and education level, which were similar between groups.

Cognitive data showed no significant differences in levels of episodic cognitive memory, defined as recent and delayed recall of logical paragraphs and paired associates learning, according to the researchers. Additionally, no significant differences were seen between groups on 10 of the 11 remaining cognitive areas measured. However, performance declines were observed on the Trails A test in the group with a longer duration of cognitive problems.

Measures of episodic memory and processing speed, considered to be markers of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, were in the normal range in both groups, according to the researchers. Delayed recall was found to be the most sensitive measure for distinguishing older adults with early Alzheimer’s disease from memory loss due to normal aging. – by Shirley Pulawski

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.