Alzheimer’s Disease Research

Posted by: The Bristal

Dear Maryellen,

I see that you write extensively about Alzheimer’s disease in your blog. I think we might be dealing with the beginning of this with my mother, unfortunately, but we’re in the middle of tests right now, and we don’t know for sure. Is this awful disease preventable in any way?  -Joanne, Elmont, NY

Dear Joanne,

If I write so much about Alzheimer’s disease, it is because of its rampant and spreading prevalence in our nation’s rapidly aging boomer population. So many more people seem to suffer from it with every passing year — and not just individuals, but their families as well — that I feel the need to share whatever news I can about it whenever such information crosses my desk; especially, regarding its potential prevention. So, in response to your inquire, Joanne, it turns out that new research does suggest that half of worldwide Alzheimer’s disease cases can be potentially prevented — and we can do so by making healthy lifestyle changes that are often associated with preventing other chronic health conditions.

Interestingly, according to researchers in San Francisco VA Medical Center, the biggest modifiable risk factors for preventing Alzheimer’s among Americans include physical inactivity, depression, smoking, mid-life hypertension, mid-life obesity, low education and diabetes. Sound familiar? In analyzing data compiled from multiple Alzheimer’s studies involving thousands of participants around the world, researchers uncovered that the aforementioned risk factors can be linked to 54% of Alzheimer’s cases in the United States (about 2.9 million) and 51% worldwide (17.2 million).

This is vital and actionable news when one considers that the number of Alzheimer’s cases is expected to triple within the next 40 years, according to the study. As its lead researcher states, “What’s exciting is that this suggests that some very simple lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity and quitting smoking, could have a tremendous impact on preventing Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the United States and worldwide.”

There you have it, Andrea; Alzheimer’s disease just may be preventable. What do you say you and me head right down to the gym?!

Maryellen McKeon

Source: McKnight’s Long-Term Care News Online; July 20, 2011

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