Bob DeMarco Alzheimer's Reading Room

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Can Healthy Lifestyle Choices Keep Dementia Away?


“Our study suggests that rather than just paying attention to already known risk factors for dementia, such as diabetes or heart disease, keeping up with your general health may help reduce the risk for dementia.”

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

The idea that you might be able to prevent Alzheimer's or the other types of dementia always leads to an interesting conversation.

Some people are convinced there is nothing you can do to prevent the disease, or slow it down.

There is one school of thought that concludes you are either genetically predisposed to Alzheimer's, or you are not. However, it is not yet known what factors turn genes on and off in Alzheimer's disease.

In other words, let's say you have a gene that predisposes you to Alzheimer's disease.

Lets say 100 people have the gene but only 30 end up suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Why did 30 get Alzheimer's, and why didn't the other 70?

In the idealized world the answer would be simple. The gene didn't turn on in those that were Alzheimer's free. A very simplistic answer to say the least.

Of course, Alzheimer's disease might be caused by a series of genes, or by mutated versions of genes. Scientist are hard at work as I write this trying to unravel this puzzles.

Here is something we do know, lifestyle decisions can effect health. Especially as you age and when you get "old". You can ask any world class geneticist and they will tell you lifestyle choices are a factor.

The study below had a large population, 7,239, and was conducted over a ten year time span. The study found that each health problem increased a person’s odds of developing dementia by 3.2 percent compared to people without such health problems.

You might consider reading this and making some choices on your own.


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Keeping up Your Overall Health May Keep Dementia Away

Improving and maintaining health factors not traditionally associated with dementia, such as denture fit, vision and hearing, may lower a person’s risk for developing dementia, according to a new study published in the July 13, 2011, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Our study suggests that rather than just paying attention to already known risk factors for dementia, such as diabetes or heart disease, keeping up with your general health may help reduce the risk for dementia,” said study author Kenneth Rockwood, MD, of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

The study included 7,239 people free of dementia ages 65 and older from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging. After five years and again after 10 years, they were evaluated for Alzheimer’s disease and all types of dementia. Participants were asked questions about 19 health problems not previously reported to predict dementia. Problems included arthritis, trouble hearing or seeing, denture fit, chest or skin problems, stomach or bladder troubles, sinus issues, broken bones and feet or ankle conditions, among others.

After 10 years, 2,915 of the participants had died, 883 were cognitively healthy, 416 had Alzheimer’s disease, 191 had other types of dementia, 677 had cognitive problems but no dementia, and the cognitive status of 1,023 people was not clear.

The study found that each health problem increased a person’s odds of developing dementia by 3.2 percent compared to people without such health problems. Older adults without health problems at baseline had an 18 percent chance to become demented in 10 years, while such risk increased to 30 percent and 40 percent in those who had 8 and 12 health problems, respectively.

“More research needs to be done to confirm that these non-traditional health problems may indeed be linked to an increased risk of dementia, but if confirmed, the consequences of these findings could be significant and could lead to the development of preventive or curative strategies for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Jean Fran├žois Dartigues, MD, PhD, with the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Paris, France, in an accompanying editorial.

The study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation and the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 24,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com.



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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,800 articles with more than 602,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.



The Alzheimer’s Action Plan: The Experts’ Guide to the Best Diag­no­sis and Treat­ment for Mem­ory Prob­lems
 
The 36-Hour Day A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease


Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room