Are Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia Preventable?

May 24, 2017

 

 

Fotuhi is a neurologist who has long believed that taking care of the brain, as well as one takes care of the rest of their body, can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. There isn’t a reliable way to treat dementia with prescription drugs. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is to cost $1 trillion in US health care costs by 2050, annually. In 2016, research was done at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference that led to the conclusion that exercise and “brain training” can protect the brain from cognitive aging. Scientists don’t know what initiates Alzheimer’s Disease  in a person however; a hypothesis by the name of, “Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis” took the attention of the science community in 1992. The Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis explains that the main driver of Alzheimer’s disease is due to excessive amyloid (protein) buildup in the brain which clumps into plaques.

 

“The overproduction of amyloid is thought to be a cause of early-onset Alzheimer’s, which can affect the brains of people in their 40s and 50s.”

 

More than 30% of people worldwide who has Alzheimer’s disease , 9.6 million to be exact, are cases that could have been prevented. Hypertension in middle age people, diabetes, obesity, physical activity, depression, smoking and low education are variables that play a factor in having Alzheimer’s disease.

 

“According to an estimate published in the journal Hypertension, if every middle-aged American with high blood pressure got properly treated for it, about 25% of dementia cases would be wiped out.” There is a strong link between strong hearts with healthy minds. The brain uses 20% of pumped blood for that reason anything that would affect blood flow, would ultimately affect the brain. The Framingham Heart Study tracked dementia in 5,205 people aged 60 and older since 1975. Since then, people with at least a HS Diploma fell 44%.

 

The hippocampus is the first region of the brain to shrivel when people age. This can be reversed (the brain can grow) through meditation and exercise intervention. Fotuhi gave his patients cognitive tests during a three month period, to assess their strengths and weaknesses (which costs $6, 000 - $7,000 depending on one’s coverage of health insurance). During this three month period, people were encouraged to exercise, play brain games that are tailored to their weaknesses, go through cognitive behavioral therapy and have sessions of neurofeedback (a technique that lets patients modify their brain activity in real time) meditate, eat a Mediterranean diet, reduce stress and improve their sleep.

 

“Of 127 older patients with mild cognitive impairment, 84% showed improvement in at least three areas of cognitive function. Of the 17 who had an MRI before and after the study, eight had some shrinking or no growth in the hippocampus, but nine saw theirs grow by at least 1%.”

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