What you can do to prevent Alzheimer's | Lisa Genova



Surprising News on Alzheimer’s Risk: Could Your Job Protect Your Brain?

Alzheimer's Disease Risk: Whose Is Highest?

By a surprising margin of 93 percent, this irreversible and progressive degenerative disease is more likely in people who have type 1 diabetes than in those who don't have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. This startling statistic is just one piece of news reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference underway in Washington, D.C.

Both types of diabetes increase vulnerability to dementia, found Rachel Whitmer, PhD, and her colleagues at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. Their research included 490,344 people older than 60. Dr. Whitmer noted in a statement that people with type 1 diabetes differ from people with type 2, which is far more common in the United States, because type 1 diabetes has an earlier onset, and people with type 1 are on insulin therapy throughout their lifetimes.

Another risk factor for the type of cognitive impairment found in dementia and Alzheimer's disease is anesthesia. After surgery that involves general anesthesia, women experience twice the rate of decline in mental function that men do. This was the result of a study presented by Katherine Amy Lin of the Duke University Medical Center, that was conducted along with the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). For about eight years, researchers followed 400 men and women who had problems with memory and thinking skills, called mild cognitive impairment.

Both school performance and job type also come into play for Alzheimer’s risk, found a new study of over 7,000 people presented by Serhiy Dekhtyar, PhD, conducted by him and his colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. People in the bottom one-fifth of their class in childhood at about age 10 had a 21 percent higher risk of developing dementia when they were over age 65 than others did.

Whose Alzheimer's Risk Is Lower?

The same Swedish study shows that in people who had highly complex jobs that used data and numbers, dementia risk was 23 percent lower. People with the lowest risk of dementia had two factors going for them in their personal lives: highly complex jobs and higher levels of school performance.

10 Ways You Can ‘Love Your Brain’

The good news is that life-long healthy habits can sustain and even improve your brain health as you age, according to the Alzheimer’s Association's Chief Science Officer, Maria Carrillo, PhD.

Try these  to help lower your risk of mental decline as you age:

  1. Exercise regularly.When you get enough exercise to raise your heart rate, more blood flows to your brain.
  2. Quit smoking today.Smoking is a risk factor for dementia. If you stop smoking, your risk of mental decline goes back to normal.
  3. Protect your head from injuries.Prevent falls, wear your seat belt, and use a helmet when bike riding to prevent brain injury — a risk factor for dementia.
  4. Get enough restful sleep.Insomnia and sleep apnea not only disturb your sleep, they can also cause trouble with your memory.
  5. Be social.Did you know that getting involved with social activities with family, friends, and your community is good for your brain health, too?
  6. Take a class.Education, no matter what your age, helps lower your risk of dementia.
  7. Be good to your heart.Keeping a normal weight, controlling your blood pressure, and taking care of your diabetes are good for your heart health and your brain health, too.
  8. Stick to a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.A plant-based diet like the Mediterranean diet is good for both your heart and brain, and may help lower your risk of mental decline.
  9. Take care of your mental health.Get tested and treated for mental health conditions like depression, which has been linked to poorer brain health as you age.
  10. Challenge your mind.Games, projects, and artistic activities you enjoy can benefit your brain health now and in the long-term, too.

The Alzheimer's Association has a 24-hour helpline (1.800.272.3900) to provide more information about the condition, and to help you find local care that you or a loved one may need.

PHOTO CREDIT: Andrea Danti/Shutterstock

Last Updated:7/21/2015
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Date: 12.12.2018, 15:29 / Views: 51193