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Posts Tagged ‘alzheimer’s’

Do This to Cut Your Dementia Risk in Half

November 29, 2013

New advances in medical treatments and better understanding of preventative care through screening have increased Americans’ lifespans, but every year additional year merely brings us closer to possible dementia. This was the thinking until recent studies confirmed a simple, foolproof way to cut your risk for developing dementia by 50 percent. Is it an expensive new drug or a doctor-developed brain training Nintendo game? Actually, it’s something much more attainable and significantly cheaper: exercise.


The Costs of Dementia

According to projections by the Alzheimer’s Association, the number of Americans with the degenerative condition will increase by 40 percent in the next 12 years. In 2010 alone, dementias (including Alzheimer’s) cost the nation’s families, insurers, and government $172 billion. As the population ages, those costs will only go up, with the figure ballooning to $1 trillion by 2050. Even worse than the financial expense is the impact on what should be one’s golden years; most baby boomers in America will spend their retirement struggling with Alzheimer’s or caring for a loved one who has it.


More Exercise = Bigger Brain

Fortunately, everyone can reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia with simple physical activity. Complex stretching routines or strenuous weightlifting regimens are not required to gain the brain-protecting benefit, either. According to the study published earlier this year, the best results were obtained among subjects who did little more than brisk walking.

How exactly does physical exertion guard against dementia? The most important parts of the brain for complex thinking and forming memories are the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. While their deterioration is a predictor for Alzheimer’s disease, they are also linked to physical exercise. Greater fitness levels correlate with an increase in size among both areas. We often think of growing brains as limited to children and teenagers, but even previously sedentary subjects in their 60s and 70s saw an increase in brain volume when they began exercising for the study.


Next Steps

While the study clearly proved the benefits of walking, some questions remain unanswered. Do the gains in cognition and mood persist if the subject stops exercising? What is the minimum of activity needed and is there an upper limit of intensity and frequency after which there is no additional benefit for the brain? Subjects in the study walked 3 to 45 minutes each day, so that’s the best starting point for anyone interested in dementia prevention.

Find more resources on Alzheimer’s and dementia prevention from Life Line Screening now:


4 Benefits of Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

September 27, 2013

As we grow older, our health becomes even more of a concern to ourselves and those around us. One of the growing threats to individuals of increased age is Alzheimer’s disease – a cognitive condition with no known cure. The good news is early detection and treatment can help slow the debilitating effects, or in some cases even reverse the damage.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease across the world are staggering. Depending on how each case is identified, there are anywhere from 2.6 to 5.2 million people living with the disease right now. The bad news is the CDC expects that number to grow exponentially over the coming decades, estimating that nearly 16 million will have the disease by 2050.


Why Early Detection Matters

Catching any condition early is better than waiting until the disease has progressed to the point of catastrophic health consequences. Studies have yet to produce a clear-cut cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but there are a number of ways all people can be on the lookout for Alzheimer’s disease warning signs so it can be caught early.

Specific benefits of early detection of Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Beginning medical treatment right away. Early identification allows for aggressive therapies that can slow or even arrest the advancement of the disease.
  • Comfort with treatment plans. If caught early, an Alzheimer’s disease patient can have an open dialogue with their healthcare provider about treatment options and even experimental therapies.
  • Awareness about the road ahead. Individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can educate themselves and their families on what they can expect in the future.
  • Fast action to slow the progression of the disease. Lifestyle changes involving physical and mental exercise, diet and other healthy habits can be adopted that may help slow the effects of the disease.

No matter what the health condition might be, from heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, or even Alzheimer’s disease, early detection is beneficial. The sooner a disease can be identified, the sooner treatment can be sought, and the less likely the disease will result in catastrophic, life-threatening consequences.

Study: Atrial Fibrillation Could Show Signs of Early Dementia

September 18, 2013

The medical community has yet to find a cure for both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, two cognitive disorders that affect more than 5 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control. As the public waits for a cure, people can take steps to minimize their risk and improve their overall health, particularly in regards to heart disease prevention.

A recent study from the University of Alabama shows a connection between atrial fibrillation, the most common form of abnormal heart rhythm, and earlier onset of dementia symptoms. One theory for the link between the two conditions is that chronic heart conditions affect blood flow in the body, including the brain. When the brain doesn’t get enough blood flow, it reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients the brain receives.

Atrial fibrillation, commonly called AFib, can also cause what is known as “silent strokes.” A silent stroke can cause many of the same symptoms of a full blown stroke such as slurred speech and dizziness but to a lesser degree, according to MedLine Plus, a publication of the National Institutes of Health. AFib makes people more prone to developing clots in their atria leading to these silent mini-strokes that have do significant damage to the brain.

The clear link between AFib and early dementia backs up what the medical community has already found regarding prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Doctors have long promoted heart disease prevention as a way to maintain healthy brain functions.


The Importance of AFib Awareness

Heart disease prevention ensures proper circulation so all organs, especially the brain, receive the oxygen and nutrients they need. Preventing heart disease can also lower a person’s risk for other dementia risk factors like stroke and diabetes.

As the population ages, AFib will likely become a more common ailment. In fact, a recent Reuters article declares that if current trends continue, the number of Americans with atrial fibrillation will more than double in the next 16 years. The Centers for Disease Control predicts as many as 12 million people will have the condition by the year 2050, a significant percentage of the population.

Atrial fibrillation screening from Life Line Screening can help identify the condition early so that fast treatment can be sought. Medication, surgery and lifestyle changes can help treat AFib.

Even though AFib is a problem in the heart, it can impact other areas of the body, including the brain. Healthy lifestyle changes can also impact all areas of the body and lower risk for not just one condition, but multiple conditions. The above is just one example.

Top 10 Lifestyle Changes to Lower Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

August 29, 2013

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million people in the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This number could triple by the year 2050. While many factors play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s, people can make several lifestyle changes today to lower their risk for getting this devastating disease.

According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, below are the “top 10 rules” to live by to lower Alzheimer’s disease risk:

1. Give your brain a workout by engaging in mentally challenging games and tasks. Crossword puzzles, number games, word games and even learning a new skill or new task can strengthen existing brain connections and possibly generate new ones, making the brain stronger and healthier.

2. Give your body a workout, too. Staying physically active and maintaining a healthy weight contributes to your body’s overall health, including brain health. Physical activity promotes blood flow to the brain stimulating the growth of brain connections.

3. Feed your brain with foods that naturally lower cholesterol, fight high blood pressure, and are lower in fat. These foods also help guard against obesity, a leading risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Eat protective foods that research has shown can help protect brain cells and lower risk of heart disease and stroke. These include dark-skinned fruits and vegetables, which are high in antioxidants, fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, and some nuts.

5. Don’t let depression go untreated. Depression can affect both physical and intellectual health, both of which affect your risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.

6. Protect your heart and blood vessels. Blood flow and oxygen flow to the brain are crucial for maintaining optimum brain health. High blood pressure and heart disease limit blood and oxygen flow to the entire body, including the brain, raising the risk for cognitive problems.

7. Taking vitamin supplements every day can also help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s. Vitamins E, B12, C and folic acid all help support a healthy cardiovascular system and help the brain function at peak performance.

8. Remain socially active with friends, family and loved ones. These social bonds stimulate intellectual activity in the brain. Joining a club, volunteering or attending church can promote social well-being.

9. Get help to stop smoking, which is a habit with numerous negative health consequences including consequences for the brain.

10. Choose a doctor you feel comfortable with and follow his or her advice. Having great doctors is pointless if you don’t listen to and follow their medical guidance.

Lastly, we’ve added one final tip: use a health screening service like Life Line Screening to become aware of undiagnosed health conditions that could contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol. Knowing the state of your health can empower you with the ability to prevent more serious, life-altering problems down the road.

5 Things You Should Know about Alzheimer’s Warning Signs

June 26, 2013

With more than 5 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and the majority being over age 65, it’s important to know as much as we can about the condition – especially its earliest warning signs. This form of dementia has no known cure, making preventive action all the more vital.

Recently, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America compiled a list of the top 10 things you should know about Alzheimer’s disease. There are multiple factors that you might not be aware of that could have an impact on early diagnosis and treatment. Let’s explore five of the top ten items below:

#1: Don’t mistake aging as an excuse.
Sure, we all experience some level of memory loss, cognitive decline and behavioral changes as we get older, but don’t mistake Alzheimer’s disease as a “normal” part of the aging process. It’s not. Even though older age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, the condition is not something we should excuse as simply a part of getting older.

#2: Keep an eye out for patterns.
Forgetting something, like a person’s name or paying a bill, is normal when it happens every so often. However, consistently forgetting a person’s name or forgetting to pay a bill for months at a time may be a red flag of a more serious cognitive condition.

#3: Symptoms don’t guarantee an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Many Alzheimer’s symptoms can mimic the symptoms of other health problems. For example, memory problems may indicate vitamin deficiencies, depression, or thyroid conditions. It’s important to consult a physician about any symptoms you may have so a proper diagnosis can be made.

#4: Every person is different.
While general warning signs of Alzheimer’s may be consistent, every person may experience their own unique symptoms at different times in the progression of the disease. In addition, other people might experience symptoms but try to hide them so they’re less noticeable. Every Alzheimer’s case is unique.

#5: Symptoms can be both cognitive and behavioral.
When most of us think of Alzheimer’s disease, we think of memory loss, confusion, misplacing items often, trouble doing everyday tasks, and other thinking difficulties. Alzheimer’s symptoms may also consist of behavioral changes, like unexplained mood swings, anxiety, anger, depression, and sleeplessness.

There are more factors you should know about Alzheimer’s disease that you can read about here. Remember that with a condition like Alzheimer’s, whose exact cause remains a mystery and a cure has not yet been discovered, the best thing you can do is proactively understand and be on the lookout for early warning signs. Catching any disease early, including Alzheimer’s disease, provides the best chances for more successful treatment.

Learn more about other diseases, like heart disease, that can be caught early through a proactive approach. See how the power of prevention can benefit you.


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