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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Risk Factors We CAN Change 11/22/2012

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. As we gorge ourselves on delicious traditional and experimental foods this year, let's decide to make a few lifestyle changes to help ourselves avoid Alzheimer's disease if possible. Here is the remainer of the article, quoted from The Huffington Post Healthy Living.

"When I am asked in my clinical practice about Alzheimer's prevention, I recommend attending to reversible risk factors for other conditions that impact negatively on the brain, particularly stroke and heart disease," adds Dr. Relkin. "After addressing things such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, the most actionable advice I can give is to make lifestyle changes, such as regular physical exercise, weight control and eating a heart-healthy diet."
Reduce your risk of stroke: The first and most important thing you can do is reduce your risk of stroke. Stroke and Alzheimer's share many risk factors and the likelihood of dementia is doubled after a stroke. While it's not clear exactly why, considerable evidence (some of it gathered by the unique Nun Study) shows that two brains with an identical burden of AD pathology (plaques and tangles) can function quite differently. The non-stroke affected brain is more likely to function well, and the stroke-affected brain is more likely to develop dementia, including those affected by so-called "silent strokes."
In lifestyle terms, this means being a fanatic about controlling your blood pressure and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), as well as high cholesterol and diabetes. Quit smoking. Read more from me about stroke prevention here.
Avoid concussion and head trauma: From research on professional football players to World War II vets and boxers, the evidence is mounting that traumatic brain injury has lifelong consequences, one of which is a marked increase in Alzheimer's, as well as Parkinson's disease, depression and suicide risk. The worse the injury, the higher the risk. Professional football players' risk of death from Alzheimer's or ALS appears to be increased almost four times.
Treat depression: Suffering from depression in midlife, and especially later in life is associated with increased Alzheimer's risk. Highly effective treatment is available for depression and should be pursued. (See my advice in depression here.)
Increase your activity and exercise: You don't have to do a triathlon, but the more you move, the better your vascular health, which is directly related to many types of dementia. A recent study even suggested that jogging five times a week normalized the otherwise much elevated risk of people with two copies of the gene variant ApoE-4.

Control your diabetes: High glucose levels, including after meals, can double your lifetime risk for developing Alzheimer's.
Keep your mind alive: It's too much to say that doing crosswords and playing cards alone can stave off Alzheimer's, but there is a correlation between active brain engagement and reduced risk. A recent study suggested that lots of mental activity delays the onset of cognitive decline (although decline was also faster once it began). But if you only have time or energy for physical or cognitive exercise, it has recently been shown that, although both are good, physical exercise is better at keeping the brain healthiest.
Sleep better: Sleep apnea has long been recognized as a cause of decreased daytime alertness, but recent studies suggest it may also increase the risk of dementia. For the obese, weight loss alone can sometimes help to eliminate sleep apnea, but in many cases other medical interventions are required.
Lots of things in life are beyond our control, but we should all take heart from what we can do. I urge you to take a walk and eat a healthy snack to celebrate... before it's too late.

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