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Alzheimer's: what changes can help prevent it and add years with quality of life

2023-02-03T11:00:47.889Z


The neurologist Conrado Estol explains how to achieve a 'cognitive reserve' and what guidelines to incorporate to reduce the risk of dementia.


What we do every day has a

direct impact

on health.

Precisely this premise is alluded to when it is recommended to carry out a healthy lifestyle.

But it is not an easy task, since harmful habits tend to remain deep-rooted.

"It is estimated that

one third

of patients with Alzheimer's disease have modifiable risk factors, such as smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension", introduces neurologist Conrado Estol.

In this sense, the founding doctor of the Breyna Clinic, assures that "we should all have the opportunity to extend our life expectancy with a

physical and cognitive capacity in accordance

"".

There are about 50 million people with Alzheimer's in the world, and it is believed that by 2050 there will be 132. Photo Shutterstock.

Is it possible to "extend life"?

"We are at a unique

turning point

for human life expectancy," he slides, adding that the prevention of vascular disease offers the possibility of achieving "a significant prolongation of human life with a physical and mental capacity that adds 

quality

and not just years to life."

In this sense, Estol highlights the importance of

distorting our habits,

in order to identify the actions that we can change to be healthier.

"I would like to invite the reader to ask yourself if you think you could do something or much more for your health than what you are doing right now," he says.

"If you

progressively adopt

lifestyle changes—adequate sleep, healthy nutrition at an ideal weight, frequent exercise, stress management, not smoking, and minimal to no alcohol consumption—and achieve blood pressure control, a glucose in normal blood and a cholesterol level that reduces atherosclerotic plaque attached to the arterial wall, you will be on the right path to prolonging your life," he says.

The MIND diet is indicated as the one indicated to protect the brain.

Photo Shutterstock.

Alzheimer's and healthy habits

"Alzheimer's is a disease of the

different cognitive functions

that the brain uses to carry out daily activities in a normal way. These functions include various types of memory, visuospatial orientation, language, and the executive function that represents the ability to plan, organize and carry out actions", explains

There are approximately

50 million people

with Alzheimer's disease in the world, and it is estimated that this number will climb to 132 million by 2050.

"The disease that progressively occludes the arteries -atherosclerosis- is an important cause of disease of cognitive functions", highlights Estol.

And in this direction, he mentions the results of the study

"Association of lifestyle and genetic risk with the incidence of dementia"

, carried out in the United Kingdom among 200,000 adults over 60 years of age without cognitive alterations.

"This work showed that a healthy lifestyle

decreases the risk of dementia

regardless of the presence of a high genetic risk for having the disease," analyzes the Argentine neurologist.

And he assures that "the evidence generated in this study shows that, although

genetics cannot be changed

, leading a healthy lifestyle and brain-protective nutrition decreases the risk of dementia and/or cognitive alterations in healthy and young people."

The diet to which he alludes is called MIND;

and it is a hybrid between the Mediterranean and the DASH.

It places special emphasis on certain foods, such as vegetables, green leafy vegetables, nuts and blueberries, whose properties can play a protective role.

Managing stress is important to improve quality of life.

Photo Shutterstock.

How to increase cognitive reserve

Estol specifies that "a high level of education,

intense social interaction

throughout life, and interest in developing various activities, in addition to the professional one (music, board games and other hobbies)" are factors that contribute to increasing the so-called "cognitive reserve".

Good cognitive reserve can "

delay the onset of dementia

by years compared to people with less education, less social activity, and lack of diverse interests."

"Likewise, the importance of exercise is highlighted in line with the results of a study from the University of Pittsburgh that showed that people who walked the most kilometers per week had a

greater brain volume

and a lower risk of dementia. Physical activity of a few minutes per day decreases the risk of cognitive impairment," he enthuses.

Among the guidelines that we can modify, sleeping well is essential.

Photo Shutterstock.

Prevent at all stages

When it comes to establishing at what stage of life it is important to control risk factors, the answer is:

at all

.

Even once mild cognitive alterations are diagnosed, "since

early diagnosis

and control of risk factors reduce the possibility of developing a severe cognitive alteration -Alzheimer's dementia- later," he explains.

"Hence, primordial prevention -which is applicable to young people without risk factors- and primary prevention -which is carried out in people with risk factors but who have not yet had any vascular event- offer the

best opportunity

for the learning and adopting a healthy lifestyle," he adds.

It also states that scientific evidence has shown that prevention of vascular risk ("even in people who have had a heart attack or are over 60 years of age") also significantly decreases the probability of repeating a vascular event, or of developing cognitive disorders.

"A healthy lifestyle decreases the risk of dementia," stresses Estol.

The future of Alzheimer's

Is there

hope

regarding the prevention and treatment of the disease?

"There are several investigations in progress that are evaluating drugs that would show encouraging results not only to treat Alzheimer's, but also to identify biological markers that indicate 10 or 20 years earlier who is likely to develop Alzheimer's in the future," Estol replies.

Regarding treatment, the neurologist reports that a

monoclonal antibody

showed effectiveness for the first time in achieving a "modest improvement" in cognitive function without causing significant side effects.

"Hypotheses about disease-causing mechanisms that are different from the classical theory of excessive amyloid accumulation are also being investigated," he adds.

And finally, he explains that these investigations could "open the way" to earlier treatments.

"Considering the significant advance in life expectancy and the fact that Alzheimer's disease is directly associated with increasing age, it is important to find a cure for this disease that currently causes not only

severe disability

but is the sixth leading cause of death. in the world," he concludes.

***

Do you want to read more about Alzheimer's and healthy aging?

These notes may interest you:

➪Adult brain: what is neurogenesis and why the role of physical exercise is key

➪Why memory is lost and how it changes over time: a neuroscientist answers the most frequently asked questions

➪Alzheimer's and Parkinson's: how language can help detect the first clues

➪ Alzheimer's: how it differs from dementia, what the treatments aim for and how to reduce the risk, in 8 questions to an expert

➪What forgetfulness should worry us and how to take care of memory so that it lasts

➪What is cognitive impairment, why are consultations increasing and 10 warning signs

➪Dementia: three daily tasks that can help prevent it

***


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Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-02-03

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