World Alzheimer's Day: Risk Factors & Prevention

   |  Updated: September 21, 2014 11:31 IST

World Alzheimer's Day: Risk Factors & Prevention
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. The cause and progress of the disease have not been understood well yet. There is no available cure for the disease and it worsens over time. But certain treatments can help in slowing down the progression of the disease. It is a terminal illness where a person may eventually suffer with permanent memory loss, language problems, poor cognitive functions and other behavioural changes.

According to scientific estimates, a new case of Alzheimer's arises every four seconds and the number of people suffering with it double every 20 years. The studies also predict that by 2040, over 82 million elderly people are expected to have Alzheimer's if the current numbers hold and no preventive treatments become available.

Are you at a risk?

Early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include short term memory loss, judgment, thinking and concentration difficulties, mood swings and confusion. Alzheimer's is known to first affect the part of the brain that deals with your learning capability.

The greatest risk factor is age as majority of people with Alzheimer's are usually 65 and older. It is not just an old age disease, it may affect people at a younger age but the symptoms may become prominent only later. Family history and genetics are the most common factors that increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's.

Some studies show that women may be more likely to develop Alzheimer's than men. Most people consider Alzheimer's as a disease over which they have no control. But a latest report shows that certain lifestyle factors may also contribute in increasing your risk of developing Alzheimer's. These include diabetes, high Blood pressure, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and smoking.

All said and done, the actual cause of the disease still remains vague and obscure.

How can you protect yourself?

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According to the Alzheimer's Research & Prevention Foundation, exercising regularly reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by almost 50%. Health experts opine that lifestyle modifications like engaging in physical activity and eating the right diet can delay the onset of the disease. "Alzheimer's though is not curable as yet, being involved in activities that keep the brain active is the best way to mitigate the risks associated with Alzheimer's," said ManjariTripathi, professor of neurology at AIIMS. (More: Vitamin E may slow Alzheimer's disease progression)

"Physical activity, regular check-ups and abstaining from smoking and drinking were very important for every human to avoid Alzheimer's. It is important, as in the initial stages, the patients themselves do not realise that they are suffering from memory loss and very often consider it a minor problem," she added.

Renu Vohra, member secretary of ARDSI's Delhi chapter,  recommends, "A brain-healthy diet is one that reduces the risk of heart disorders and keeps a check on diabetes. The intake of fish oils and folate reduces the dementia risk." (More: Keep healthy cholesterol levels to avoid Alzheimer's)

"Meeting with friends and family members and having a large social network boost the emotional quotient. Stress clogs the mind and makes it virtually inactive, while the support system provides the healing and keeps one upbeat, at individual one should train the mind to stay calm and positive," Vohra further noted.

CommentsWorld Alzheimer's Day is commemorated every year on 21st September. Despite the fact that at least 44 million people worldwide are living with dementia, not much is known about it. By sharing facts about the risk factors and prevention of the disease you can help spread awareness and inspire a change.
With inputs from IANS

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