Before you can answer if it can be prevented.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain. It most often occurs in people over the age of 65 but can affect people in their 40s and 50s.
Familial Alzheimer’s is classified as a rare form of the disease. It accounts for less than 5% of all cases of Alzheimer’s but approximately 25% of the early onset.
Just because you have trouble with your memory from time to time, doesn’t mean you have Alzheimer’s disease. It’s when you have trouble with your day-to-day functions, ability to communicate or a decrease in judgment or reasoning that you should see your doctor.
Stroke and Alzheimer’s disease are more intimately linked than you might realize.
Thanks to the “Nun Study” (a study of a group of elderly nuns in the U.S.), we have a better understanding of the effects of aging and Alzheimer’s. These women agreed to allow investigators full access to their archival and medical records, participated in annual assessments of cognitive and physical function and donated their brains at death for neuropathologic studies.
This influential study of nuns whose brains were examined after death revealed those who showed significant signs of brain damage from Alzheimer’s disease and had suffered small strokes were far more likely to have dementia than those whose brains were damaged by Alzheimer’s alone.
Approximately 1 in 3 Ontarians will develop stroke, dementia or both. The incidence for each increases the risk of the other. Stroke is considered the second most common cause of dementia and is often combined with Alzheimer’s disease.
In fact, it has been estimated that up to half the cases of Alzheimer’s disease worldwide may be the result of seven key modifiable risk factors:
- High blood pressure
- Cognitive inactivity or low education
- Physical inactivity.
The hard truth is that Alzheimer’s disease remains incurable and therefore, there is no single treatment that can prevent it. Support and care earlier in life may help to delay the onset, slow the progression and improve your quality of life.
How to maintain or improve brain health:
- Physical exercise and improving cognitive skills through reading, writing and learning something new stimulates the brain.
- Eating a heart-healthy diet, reducing stress and staying socially active may also help reduce your risk.
- Make sure your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels and weight are within healthy ranges.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Get a good night’s sleep
The addition of supplements like fish oils, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C may be helpful. There are many herbs that have been known to assist in circulatory function, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and the metabolism of fats but it’s best to work with your health care practitioner before adding these into your daily routine.
A healthy mind and body now will make for a healthy mind and body later.