Can You Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

We know that at this time there is no sure way to prevent Alzheimer’s. However, the following study does identify several risk factors, the same risk factors which can effect our heart and overall health in general. These risk factors include physical inactivity, depression, smoking, mid-life hypertension, mid-life obesity, low education, and diabetes. Living the healthiest lifestyle possible is our best chance to prevent a myriad of debilitating diseases. For Alzheimer’s care available in South Florida, visit us at

Can You Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

If you’re like me, every time you forget your keys or the name of a favorite actor playing in an old movie, you start worrying that you’re starting down the long slide to dementia, if not Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s and dementia are actually very different issues. Dementia refers to a set of symptoms that include memory loss, impairment of judgment, and difficulty with language. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that accounts for 60 to70 percent of the cases of dementia, but other disorders such as vascular disease and Parkinson’s can also cause dementia.

Over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s. And experts estimate that with our aging population, the number of cases will more than triple to over 16 million by 2050.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease is still a mystery to medical science. Although there is clearly some genetic component, researchers do not understand what really causes the disease or even exactly what it is. Amyloid plaques are found in the brains of Alzheimer’s victims. But do the plaques cause the disease, or are they merely a symptom? Doctors are working on tests to predict whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s, but so far there is nothing definitive. Pharmaceutical companies have produced drugs that will ameliorate symptoms, but there is no cure.

If we don’t even know how we get Alzheimer’s, how can we possibly know how to prevent it? There’s no proof that we can. But a recent University of California at San Francisco study identified several risk factors. “What’s exciting is that this suggests that some very simple lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity and quitting smoking could have tremendous impact on preventing Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” says study author Deborah Barnes.

It’s not surprising that the main risk factors for Alzheimer’s are the same ones that put you at risk for heart disease and overall poor health. The study named seven main pathways to Alzheimer’s: physical inactivity, depression, smoking, mid-life hypertension, mid-life obesity, low education, and diabetes.

So if you want to prevent Alzheimer’s, stop smoking, get treatment for depression or anxiety, and engage in some sort of physical activity like walking, biking, dancing, or swimming. Go take an adult education class at your community college, join a bridge club, or start doing crossword puzzles. And if you’re overweight, shed some of those extra pounds.

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