Drowsiness, staring off into space, or losing your train of thought may be early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.
Researchers found that people with at least three different symptoms of mental lapses like these were 4.6 times more likely to have dementia than people without such episodes. In addition, people with mental lapses tended to have more severe Alzheimer's symptoms and perform worse on memory and thinking tests.
"If you have these lapses, they don't by themselves mean that you have Alzheimer's," research James Galvin, MD, a Washington University neurologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, says in a news release. "Such lapses do occur in healthy older adults. But our results suggest that they are something your doctor needs to consider if he or she is evaluating you for problems with thinking and memory."
Previous studies have linked mental lapses with another type of dementia known as dementia with Lewy bodies, but their association with Alzheimer's disease has been unknown.