Demanding jobs may increase survival in frontotemporal dementia

April 22, 2015

People with more demanding jobs may live longer after developing the disease frontotemporal dementia than people with less skilled jobs, according to a new study published in the April 22, 2015, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Frontotemporal dementia, which often affects people under the age of 65, results in changes in personality or behavior and problems with language, but does not affect the memory.

"This study suggests that having a higher occupational level protects the brain from some of the effects of this disease, allowing people to live longer after developing the disease," said study author Lauren Massimo, PhD, CRNP, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania State University in State College and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

The findings add evidence to the "cognitive reserve" theory that experiences such as more education and higher occupation and mental activity build up connections in the brain that create a buffer against disease.

"People with typically live six to 10 years after the symptoms emerge, but little has been known about what factors contribute to this range," Massimo said.

For the study, researchers reviewed the medical charts of 83 people who had an autopsy after death to confirm the diagnosis of frontotemporal or Alzheimer's disease. They also had information about the people's primary occupation. Occupations were ranked by U.S. Census categories, with jobs such as factory workers and service workers in the lowest level; jobs such as tradesworkers and sales people in the next level; and professional and technical workers, such as lawyers and engineers, in the highest level.

Researchers measured when the symptoms began by the earliest report from family members of persistently abnormal behavior. Survival was defined as from the time symptoms began until death.

The 34 people with frontotemporal dementia had an average survival time of about seven years. The people with more challenging jobs were more likely to have longer survival times than those with less challenging . People in the highest occupation level survived an average of 116 months, while people in the lower occupation group survived an average of 72 months, suggesting that individuals who had been in the professional workforce may live up to three years longer.

The study found that occupational level was not associated with longer survival for the people with Alzheimer's disease dementia. The number of years of education a person had did not affect the survival time in either disease.

Explore further: How is depression related to dementia?

Related Stories

How is depression related to dementia?

July 30, 2014
A new study by neuropsychiatric researchers at Rush University Medical Center gives insight into the relationship between depression and dementia. The study is published in the July 30, 2014, online issue of Neurology, the ...

Research identifies novel steps in dementia progression

March 23, 2015
Research by biologists at the University of York has identified new mechanisms potentially driving progression of an aggressive form of dementia.

Is it dementia, or just normal aging? New tool may help triage

March 18, 2015
Researchers at Mayo Clinic developed a new scoring system to help determine which elderly people may be at a higher risk of developing the memory and thinking problems that can lead to dementia. The study is published in ...

Depression, behavioral changes may precede memory loss in Alzheimer's

January 14, 2015
Depression and behavioral changes may occur before memory declines in people who will go on to develop Alzheimer's disease, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Resistance to dementia may run in the family

August 15, 2012
People who are free of dementia and have high levels of a protein that indicates the presence of inflammation have relatives who are more likely to avoid the disease as well, according to a new study published in the August ...

Recommended for you

Brain activity buffers against worsening anxiety

November 17, 2017
Boosting activity in brain areas related to thinking and problem-solving may also buffer against worsening anxiety, suggests a new study by Duke University researchers.

Investigating patterns of degeneration in Alzheimer's disease

November 17, 2017
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is known to cause memory loss and cognitive decline, but other functions of the brain can remain intact. The reasons cells in some brain regions degenerate while others are protected is largely unknown. ...

Study may point to new treatment approach for ASD

November 17, 2017
Using sophisticated genome mining and gene manipulation techniques, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have solved a mystery that could lead to a new treatment approach for autism spectrum disorder ...

Neuroscientists find chronic stress skews decisions toward higher-risk options

November 16, 2017
Making decisions is not always easy, especially when choosing between two options that have both positive and negative elements, such as deciding between a job with a high salary but long hours, and a lower-paying job that ...

Paraplegic rats walk and regain feeling after stem cell treatment

November 16, 2017
Engineered tissue containing human stem cells has allowed paraplegic rats to walk independently and regain sensory perception. The implanted rats also show some degree of healing in their spinal cords. The research, published ...

Brain implant tested in human patients found to improve memory recall

November 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with the University of Southern California and the Wake Forest School of Medicine has conducted experiments involving implanting electrodes into the brains of human volunteers to see ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.