Survival in Frontotemporal Dementia Found To Be Increased in People With More Demanding Jobs

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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Findings from a recent study published in the journal Neurology revealed that individuals with more skilled jobs may live longer after developing frontotemporal dementia in comparison with individuals with less skilled jobs.

Frontotemporal dementia is a condition that mainly affects individuals aged under 65 years and causes personality or behavior changes and language problems.

“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.

Results from this study add evidence to the “cognitive reserve” theory concerning the fact that more educated people with more intellectual activity have a buffering protection against the condition.

“People with frontotemporal dementia typically live six to 10 years after the symptoms emerge, but little has been known about what factors contribute to this range,” Massimo said in the news release.

The research team reviewed clinical records from autopsy of a total of 83 patients who had a frontotemporal dementia or Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, and also used data about the patients’ occupations. Then the researchers categorized peoples’ jobs according with the U.S. Census classes, 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.

They then examined the initiation of symptoms, and survival was defined as from the time symptoms began until death.

Results revealed that patients with frontotemporal dementia had an average seven years of survival time. The researchers found that those individuals with more skills jobs had longer survival in comparison to those with less skilled jobs. Individuals who were more skilled had an average survival of 116 months, in comparison with those while people with less skilled jobs who had an average of 72 months of survival, indicating that people with more skilled jobs may live up to three years longer.

The number of years of education did not affect the survival time in either disease, and the level of occupation was not related with longer survival in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.