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Lifestyle changes may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s

28th October 2015


A recent study published by German researchers suggests that simple lifestyle changes such as adopting a diet that reduces one’s cholesterol levels could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s in the elderly.

Scientists at the Heidelberg University analyzed the data from two epidemiological studies, in order to determine the correlation between one’s lifestyle and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. They found that people that carry a specific gene are more likely to develop the neurodegenerative disorder if they have high levels of bad cholesterol.

Although there is no proven way to prevent the development of this form of dementia, research suggests that one may be able to reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s by reducing the risk of heart disease, maintaining normal blood pressure levels, lowering their cholesterol, losing the excess weight and keeping their blood sugar levels under control.

Lifestyle risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, such as smoking or the lack of exercise, as well as hypertension and dyslipidemia are associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline. In Alzheimer’s patients, treatments with antihypertensive medications seem to exert positive effects on cognitive function.

Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York found that poor sleep quality makes one more prone to cognitive impairment and may increase the risk of developing dementia.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that learning and having a job that involves working with numbers or establishing complex interactions with people leads to a lower risk of dementia later in life. The connections between nerve cells are strengthened by learning and complex thinking, so the brain can withstand more damage before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s become apparent.

Exercising regularly helps in keeping blood pressure under control and in combating diabetes type 2, both listed among the risk factors of dementia. Sedentary behaviors increase the risk of cognitive decline, while people who have active lifestyles are less likely to develop neurological disorders with age.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of California showed that worldwide, 14% of Alzheimer’s cases are attributed to smoking, 10% to depression, 13% to sedentary lifestyles, 5% to midlife hypertension and 2% to obesity, respectively to diabetes. Adopting a healthier lifestyle that keeps these risk factors under control could reduce the risk of AD.

No known cure for Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, condition which affects more than 342,000 Australians. Worldwide, there are more than 44 million people living with this neurodegenerative disorder, and it’s clear that it’s not only genetics and aging that favor the development of this ailment.

The condition causes memory loss and affects one’s intellectual abilities in a profound manner. People affected by this disorder may have a difficult time remembering details from their daily life, so their social relationship and quality of life may be severely affected.

Although Alzheimer’s disease is not present only in the elderly, it does get worse with age, the symptoms being progressive. The condition may start manifesting before the age of 50, memory loss being less severe in the early stages of the ailment.

The symptoms may not become noticeable to others for up to 8 years, but in the late stages of the ailment one’s ability to carry a conversation or respond to their environment may be completely compromised.

The current Alzheimer’s treatments can’t stop the disorder from progressing but can temporarily slow down the worsening of the symptoms.

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