Older people whose brain scans detected signs of brain amyloid but were otherwise healthy had a doubled risk of falling as people without brain amyloid, said a study at the Alzheimer's Association's annual International Conference in Paris Sunday.  Brain amyloid foreshadows Alzheimier's disease.   

Assistant professor of occupational therapy and neurology at Washington University in St. Louis Susan Stark told the Salt Lake Tribune, To our knowledge, this is the first study to identify a risk of increased falls related to a diagnosis of pre-clinical Alzheimer's disease.

Stark also said that the findings of the study are consistent with other studies which have shown a direct relationship between early Alzheimer's or mild cognitive impairment and mobility.  Rates of falls increases very early in the progression of the disease, Stark explained.

The 8-month study enrolled 125 cognitively unhealthy and cognitively healthy older adults whose brain scans revealed amyloid's presence.  Positron emission topography scanning, a nuclear medicine imaging technique, was used to detect the presence of the amyloid.  In PET scanning, the area with amyloid lights up.  PET is an unprecedentedly valuable method used for disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder because it makes it possible to target radio-chemicals used for particular bodily functions. 

During this period, 48 of 125 people fell at least once; risk increased by two times for individuals with a positive PET scan.