ALZHEIMER’S AND DEVMENTIA

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Health & Wellbeing -

WHAT IS IT?

Alzheimer’s is a type of de­men­tia that causes prob­lems with mem­ory, think­ing and be­hav­iour. Symp­toms usu­ally de­velop slowly and get worse over time, be­com­ing se­vere enough to in­ter­fere with daily tasks.

BA­SIC IN­FOR­MA­TION

Alzheimer’s is the most com­mon form of de­men­tia, a gen­eral term for mem­ory loss and other in­tel­lec­tual abil­i­ties se­ri­ous enough to in­ter­fere with daily life. It ac­counts for 60 to 80% of de­men­tia cases. Alzheimer’s is not a nor­mal part of ag­ing, al­though the great­est known risk fac­tor is in­creas­ing age, and the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. Up to 5 % of peo­ple with the dis­ease have early on­set Alzheimer’s, which of­ten ap­pears when some­one is in their 40s or 50s. It is a pro­gres­sive dis­ease, where de­men­tia symp­toms grad­u­ally worsen over a num­ber of years. In its early stages, mem­ory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, in­di­vid­u­als lose the abil­ity to carry on a con­ver­sa­tion and re­spond to their en­vi­ron­ment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth lead­ing cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an av­er­age of eight years af­ter their symp­toms be­come no­tice­able to oth­ers, but sur­vival can range from 4 to 20 years, de­pend­ing on age and other health con­di­tions. Alzheimer’s has no cur­rent cure, but treat­ments for symp­toms are avail­able and re­search con­tin­ues.

RISK FAC­TORS

Age: For ex­am­ple, while one of nine peo­ple age 65 or older has Alzheimer’s, nearly one of three peo­ple age 85 or older has the dis­ease. One of the great­est mys­ter­ies of Alzheimer’s dis­ease is why risk rises so dra­mat­i­cally as we grow older. Fam­ily his­tory: Those who have a par­ent, brother, sis­ter or child with Alzheimer’s are more likely to de­velop the dis­ease. When dis­eases tend to run in fam­i­lies, ei­ther hered­ity (ge­net­ics) or en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors, or both, may play a role.

Alu­minium: Dur­ing the 1960s and 1970s, alu­minium emerged as a pos­si­ble sus­pect in caus­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease. This sus­pi­cion led to con­cerns about ev­ery­day ex­po­sure to alu­minium through sources such as cook­ing pots, foil, bev­er­age cans, antacids and an­tiper­spi­rants. Since then, stud­ies have failed to con­firm any role for alu­minium in caus­ing Alzheimer’s. A few ex­perts be­lieve that ev­ery­day sources of alu­minium pose any threat.

What you can do now: Fac­tors you may be able to in­flu­ence Head trauma: There may be a strong link be­tween se­ri­ous head in­jury and fu­ture risk of Alzheimer’s, es­pe­cially when trauma oc­curs re­peat­edly or in­volves loss of con­scious­ness. Pro­tect your brain by buck­ling your seat belt, wear­ing your hel­met when par­tic­i­pat­ing in sports, and “fall-proof­ing” your home. Learn more about trau­matic brain in­jury. Heart-head con­nec­tion: Grow­ing ev­i­dence links brain health to heart health. Ev­ery heart­beat pumps about 20 to 25 % of your blood to your head, where brain cells use at least 20 % of the food and oxy­gen your blood car­ries.

The risk of de­vel­op­ing Alzheimer’s or vas­cu­lar de­men­tia ap­pears to be in­creased by many con­di­tions that dam­age the heart or blood ves­sels. Th­ese in­clude high blood pres­sure, heart dis­ease, stroke, di­a­betes and high choles­terol. Work with your doc­tor to mon­i­tor your heart health and treat any prob­lems that arise. God bless, Dr Ash Mina Prin­ci­pal Sci­en­tist | Pathol­ogy West Ph.D., M.Sc.(Clin Biochem), B.Sc. (Hons), Grad Dip (Biochem Nutrition), Grad Dip (Mi­cro), MACMSR, MAIMS, In­sti­tute of Clin­i­cal Pathol­ogy and Med­i­cal Re­search (ICPMR) Level 2 ICPMR, Darcy Rd, West­mead Hos­pi­tal

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