Alzheimer’s Disease: Can We Prevent It?
Alzheimer’s disease is a disturbing disease because it stops a person’s ability to do for themselves even simple things like using the bathroom. More horrible then anything about this disease is it takes your memories. Could you imagine not knowing your children, brothers and sisters, Mother, Father or even your own husband? Or maybe your parents are dead but in an Alzheimer‘s patient’s mind there memory is in the time when their parents were alive. So when you tell them they are gone they do not believe you and often times this will set them off into a fit of rage or they may just sit and sob uncontrollably.
Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. Alzheimer’s effect’s the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. Although scientists are learning more every day, right now they still do not know what causes Alzheimer’s, and there is no cure.
Scientists think that as many as 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s. The disease usually begins after age 60, and risk goes up with age. While younger people also may get Alzheimer’s, it is much less common. Though to me and my family it seems very common for a younger person to have it, my Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 39. About 5 percent of men and women ages 65 to 74 have Alzheimer’s, and nearly half of those age 85 and older may have the disease. It is important to note, however, that Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging.
Scientists have learned that Alzheimer‘s disease involves the malfunction or death of nerve cells, but why this happens is still not known. However, they have identified certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s and discovered clues about possible strategies to reduce risk. The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and most individuals with the illness are 65 and older. The likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s approximately doubles every five years after age 65. After age 85, the risk reaches nearly 50 percent. Another risk factor is family history.
Research has shown that those who have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s are two to three times more likely to develop the disease then those who do not. The more individuals in the family with the disease the greater the risk becomes.
Scientists have so far identified one gene that increases risk of Alzheimer’s but does not guarantee an individual will develop the disease. Research has also revealed certain rare genes that virtually guarantee that you will develop the disease. Experts believe the vast majority of cases are caused by a complex combination of genetic and non genetic influences. If you have family members with Alzheimer’s then you might consider talking to your doctor about your risk factor.
Some of the strongest evidence links brain health to heart health. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s seems to be increased by many conditions that damage heart and blood vessels, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure or cholesterol. You should work with your doctor to monitor your heart health and treat any problems that arise.
Autopsy studies provide more evidence for the heart, head connection. These studies suggest that plaques and tangles are more likely to cause Alzheimer’s symptoms if strokes or damage to the brain’s blood vessels are also present.
We can maintain a healthy brain and perhaps reduce our risk for Alzheimer’s disease by living a healthy lifestyle in particular staying socially involved, remaining mentally active, improving our diets and exercising and controlling our alcohol consumption. Also Scientists at the National Institutes on Aging and Johns Hopkins University found that taking drugs such as ibuprofen called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) for as little as two years could be an effective preventative against the debilitating disease.
Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease that steals a person’s memory and life. There is no cure yet for Alzheimer’s but science is finding ways to slow it down. There is also measures that can be taken to try and reduce our risk of getting the disease. Hopefully in the near future doctors and scientists will find a cure for this disease, but until they do we can only do things to cut down our risk to get the disease. Remember to go to your doctor regularly let them know of any risk factors you have. Watch what you eat and if you consume alcoholic beverages watch the amount you consume. No one wants to lose their independence or their memories.