Urinary tract, chest, and other infections may double the speed of memory loss among Alzheimer’s sufferers, researchers in Britain find. About half of subjects in a six-month study got infections outside the brain that prompted increased levels of an inflammatory protein; those who suffered such events, called SIEs, showed twice the rate of cognitive decline of those who didn’t experience them, the BBC reports.
Meanwhile, subjects who had higher levels of the protein to begin with, then endured SIEs, showed cognitive decline 10 times as fast as those who didn’t have SIEs. “The worse the infection the worse the affect on the memory, but this is only an association at the moment,” notes a researcher. His team highlighted the importance of better prevention of infection, and said the findings could be used to create drugs that block these inflammatory proteins.