Alcohol use and dementia: new research directions

Alcohol-related ‘dementia’ can also cause problems with a person’s mood, such as apathy, depression or irritability. These can make it even harder for the person to stop drinking – and make it difficult for people close to them to help. A person with alcohol-related ‘dementia’ may be unsteady on their feet and more likely to fall over – even when they are sober. This is because alcohol damages the part of the brain that controls balance, co-ordination and posture. Find out about Alcohol-related ‘dementia’ including symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, support and rehabilitation.

If you have difficulty controlling your alcohol use and want help, there are many treatment options and resources to help you through your journey toward sobriety and wellness. For instance, research suggests that a five-year history of drinking 35 alcoholic beverages a week for men and 28 for women presents a “sufficient” risk for the development of ARD. Excessive drinking over a period of years may lead to a condition alcohol and dementia commonly known as alcoholic dementia, or alcohol-related dementia (ARD). In the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR), it is referred to as alcohol-induced major neurocognitive disorder. The app was even more helpful for female participants, who reduced their drinking by an additional 2.5 units a week compared to women who were referred to the NHS advice webpage.

Guidelines for moderate drinking

If one abuses alcohol regularly, the body’s thiamine stores will get depleted fast. Regularly drinking too much alcohol damages blood vessels in a person’s brain and can lead to high blood pressure. Both increase their risk of having a stroke (when the brain does not get enough oxygen and is damaged). Drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short space of time (such as a single evening) is known as ‘binge-drinking’. It is equivalent to drinking 8 units or more for men and 6 units or more for women. It has been suggested that older people should have lower limits because they are at greater risk of the damaging effects of alcohol.

In particular, drinking patterns of repeated binges and withdrawal periods may enhance neuronal injury through increased vulnerability of upregulated N-methyl-D-asparate (NDMA) receptors to glutamate-induced excitotoxicity. Support for the neurotoxicity hypothesis emerges from animal studies, which have demonstrated dose-related ethanol-induced damage to brain structures – including the hippocampus, hypothalamus, and cerebellum – that correspond with impairments in memory and learning [14,15]. Cholinergic neurotransmission in the basal forebrain, which plays a key role in attention, learning, and memory, also appears to be impacted by prolonged intake of alcohol. Imaging studies of ‘uncomplicated alcoholics’ – individuals with no history of nutritional deficiency, hepatic failure, or other indirect forms of brain injury – confirm structural abnormalities, including changes to the corpus callosum, pons, and cerebellum [12]. However, the permanence of such changes, and whether they relate to neurotoxicity in isolation, remains to be established [1].

2. Search strategy

Excessive, prolonged consumption can cause a vitamin deficiency, which can cause parts of the brain to deteriorate. However, a person will likely need to take thiamine supplements and stop or significantly cut back on alcohol consumption for the best results. When a medical professional suspects alcohol dementia, some experts recommend the use of prophylactic thiamine administration.

alcohol and dementia

These changes may hinder the brain from functioning properly, causing cognitive decline. A lifelong approach to good health is the best way to lower your risk of dementia. In this context, the subgroup analysis about dementia types can’t be conduct because of the lack of the sample size. In future, we will explore the dose-response relationship between alcohol and dementia in different dementia types, alcohol measurements, and definitions. To investigate the relationship between alcohol consumption and the incidence of dementia. JR and OSMH performed the main systematic searches and the methodological studies to assure inter-rater reliability.

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