If you don’t want to become one of the 106 million people expected to have Alzheimer’s by the year 2050, then the results of a recent study should interest you. According to a July 14 report from Yahoo News, there are several lifestyle risks that set you up for the dreaded loss of memory that currently afflicts 30 million people around the world as of 2010.
According to Cambridge University Professor of Public Health Carol Brayne, depression, diabetes, low educational obtainment, midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking are the lifestyle risk factors to avoid.
Brayne admits, however, that:
Although there is no single way to prevent dementia, we may be able to take steps to reduce our risk of developing dementia at older ages.”
Not everyone is in agreement with the study or the idea that changing ones lifestyle will result in the prevention of this dementia disease. And while some acknowledge that certain conditions, such as hypertension, obesity and physical activity can play a role, other things play a role as well. According to the National Institute on Aging:
Scientists don’t fully understand yet what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but it has become increasingly clear that it develops because of a complex series of events that take place in the brain over a long period of time. It is likely that the causes include some mix of genetic, environmental and some lifestyle factors
So what do most medical professionals agree is a good place for people to start in the prevention of the memory loss causing disease? Eating a nutritious diet, engaging in physical activity on a regular basis, participating in mentally stimulating pursuits, and remaining active socially.
The Mayo Clinic reports there is no cure for this disease at present, so learning all you can about ways to help reduce your chances of getting dementia–and detecting it early, so you can get the help you need quickly, to prevent its acceleration, is your best defense right now.
To that end, the tests used to diagnose this medical condition include a combination of physical and neurological exam, lab tests, mental status testing, neuropsychological testing and brain imaging, as well as testing of proteins in the blood and spinal fluid.
In the most recent news about detecting this debilitating disease, CBS News reported on July 13 that a recent study shows that the sense of smell is one of the first things that is affected during cognitive decline. According to a Harvard Medical Student in Boston named Matthew Growdon:
Brain regions that process odors are particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer’s early in the disease process.”
Autopsies conducted after death in some patients with this condition reveal a pattern of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the area of the brain responsible for smell, CBS reports, which is a sign of this disease of the brain. So if an aging person is experiencing a loss of smell, it could be an early sign of this medical condition. However, loss of smell can be due to any number of medical health issues, so a loss of smell is not a definitive sign.
Additionally, another new way to potentially detect this condition early according to a July 13 report from the Wall Street Journal is by looking for signs of change in the retina and lens of the eye. Looking for early signs of an impending brain deterioration disease is driving new studies like that of Growdon and Dr. Knopman, who says these “simpler, less invasive” methods are more feasible for use in doctor’s offices and other clinical settings.
With Alzheimer’s disease projected to grow as much as three times the current rate of 30 million sufferers by 2050, knowing the symptoms to watch out for is critical, and detecting the disease as early as possible could help prevent it from reaching more debilitating stages as quickly. Visit the Mayo Clinic website for a list of these symptoms, which include misplacing possessions and then finding them in illogical places later.