Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder. It is the most common form of dementia and approximately 80-90% dementia patients suffer from Alzheimer’s. Currently, in the US, nearly 5.4 million people have been diagnosed with this disease. In 2014, Alzheimer’s accounted for 93,541 or 3.6% of the total deaths making it the sixth leading cause of death of adults in America, and the numbers are likely to increase in the coming years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the disease has been considered as the tenth leading cause of all deaths, whereas, fifth cause for deaths among the elderly people who are above 65. The authorities have also warned that by 2050, nearly 13.8 million people are likely to be affected by this disease.
Although, Alzheimer’s disease has become a serious concern, very fewer studies have been carried out and much is in the dark. The scientists have been trying to learn the growth pattern of the disease and reasons, but till now there is no known cure or prevention for the deadly disease.
Considering its severity and wide-spread impact on the health, we have pointed out several ways to prevent Alzheimer’s. Before we proceed, it is important to learn the risk factors and known symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease so it is helpful for us to explore various options for prevention.
Alzheimer’s patients are mostly above the age 60 or 65. Although the disease may develop earlier, in 90% cases it is diagnosed after 65. It develops very slow in the early stages and affects the memory. With age, the capacity of learning, socializing, recognizing, speaking and the abilities to perform tasks completely stop.
- Genetics: Past family history has been found to be associated with this disease.
- Age: Those above 60 and the elderly people are likely to suffer from it. The worse part is it grows worse with age. Study shows that approximately 200,000 people in the US who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease are below 65 (early-onset).
- Down Syndrome: Down syndrome increases the risk, therefore, the patients may develop Alzheimer’s disease at a later stage.
- Heart Disease: According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there is a connection between heart health and the brain, therefore, heart disease may lead to developing Alzheimer’s.
- Injury & Trauma: Injury to the brain and emotional or physical trauma may lead to the development of this disease.
- Lifestyle: According to the medical professionals, excessive stress, poor lifestyle, diet, lack of physical activity, obesity, high blood pressure, and cholesterol aggravate the condition.
- Cognitive Impairment: Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is similar to Alzheimer’s where the patients struggle with learning and memory. Such patients are on the borderline.
How to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
There are common symptoms which can be observed in the patient. Pay attention to the symptoms for an early treatment plan. Research data tell us that accumulation of plaques in the gaps between the nerve cells and tangles or twisted fibers in the cells lead to permanent damage to the nerve tissues.
Difficulty in memorizing common facts, figures, names; struggling to think and execute; misplacing things and not able to locate it; change in behavior and mood; and difficulty in recognizing people by their face are some of the commonly noticed symptoms.
Till now there is no proven method to prevent the disease. You may, however, look for the risk factors. If there is a past family history, then you should be more careful and avoid certain habits to lower the risk.
Prevention through lifestyle Changes and Exercising
Genetic factors are beyond control, one may, however, bring in lifestyle changes and take care of his or her health to avoid specific diseases such as heart disease, which may help. Additionally, exercising can also benefit in various ways.
1. Avoid Smoking: Several scholars have emphasized on lifestyle changes in order to reduce the risk. Timothy C. Durazzo and colleagues have claimed that smoking definitely increases the risk. According to the scholars, smoking increases stress and therefore, smoking cessation will certainly help to reduce the risk.
2. Prevent Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes mellitus causes more insulin production in the body and is likely to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. According to Kausar Akter and coauthors, nearly 60–70% of diabetes patients exhibit “mild to severe forms of nervous system damage”.
3. Reduce High Blood Pressure: J. M. Gabin and colleagues, in their research article, have proposed that high blood pressure leads to dementia. Controlling high blood pressure is in our hands. Smoking, stress, anxiety, lack of sleep and overeating lead to high blood pressure.
4. Control Stress: Scientists from the Max Planck Research Institutes in collaboration with the University of Minho have proved that anxiety and stress release stress hormones. These stress hormones result in “abnormally phosphorylated tau protein” which leads to memory loss.
5. Heart Health: Cardiovascular health is associated with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Stroke and heart attacks are serious health problems which may cause this Alzheimer’s. Eliminate the risk of heart diseases by controlling diet, stop smoking, avoid a large amount of alcohol, exercise and avoid stress.
6. Cholesterol: Sjögren and Blennow have found that cholesterol increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. In another study by Leila A. Shobab and colleagues, it has been suggested that cholesterol metabolism in the brain promotes the formation of plaques. It is very easy to control cholesterol level in the blood- avoid oily food and all sorts of junk food, eat more vegetables and exercise.
7. Diet: Poor choice of food develops several health problems. Eating a lot of fresh vegetables, seasonal fruits, easily digestible animal proteins and eliminating excessive oily food from the plate will help you take control of blood pressure, cholesterol and obesity.
8. Exercise: Regular exercising and yoga help us maintain a healthy body. Whether it is about reducing stress and anxiety, obesity and weight loss or heart and brain health, physical activities help you take control of the situation and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
While it is true that Alzheimer’s is an incurable disease but we hope that scientific researchers will find an answer to permanently cure and prevent this disease in future. For now, we should focus on how we can improve our health and reduce the risk.
Lifestyle changes and exercising certainly eliminate most of the risk factors and thus, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Therefore, we recommend our readers to stay positive and avoid harmful habits. Incorrect lifestyle only gives short-lived happiness whereas, good lifestyle benefits whole life.
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