About 5.7 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, but scientists have determined that in some cases, you may be able to lower your risk of getting this disease. In this blog, the neurologists at Boulevard Medical Healthcare in the Bronx, NY, explain more about Alzheimer’s and how you may be able to avoid it:
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, which is a general term for problems with memory, thinking and behavior. These symptoms are not a normal part of the aging process, and when they occur, they begin slowly and get worse over time.
What are its symptoms?
Brains change with age, so most people experience some memory issues from time to time and slowed thinking as they get older. Alzheimer’s, however, interferes with daily life and gets progressively worse. The following are some of its common symptoms:
● Difficulty remembering recent events
● Problems planning and concentrating
● Difficulty taking care of ordinary tasks and activities
● Dramatic mood swings, including anger and anxiety
● Physical problems, such as poor coordination
● Losing track of dates, seasons, or where you are or how you got there
● Vision problems, including difficulty reading or judging distances
● New problems with vocabulary or taking part in conversations
● Misplacing things by putting them in unusual places
● Poor judgment and decision-making
● Withdrawing from regular activities
Whom does it affect?
People who have Alzheimer’s are often age 65 and older. About 1 in 8 people in this age group has this disease, which affects more women than men. Although it’s frequently associated with old age, younger people can also have Alzheimer’s. About 5% of cases are classified as younger-onset Alzheimer’s, which can affect people in their 40s or 50.
What causes Alzheimer’s?
Experts believe that Alzheimer’s prevents some of the nerve cells (neurons) in your brain from operating properly. When they work as they should, these cells use fuel and oxygen to perform jobs such as thinking and learning. Changes may occur because of a particular part of your brain shrinks (atrophies) or due to inflammation, the production of free radicals (unstable molecules), or a breakdown of energy production within cells. When certain cells have problems, it can spread to other areas of the brain, causing irreversible damage. Increasing age is the most common risk factor for Alzheimer’s, and others may include genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors.
What’s the best way to prevent Alzheimer’s?
Scientists believe that healthy behaviors such as the following may be able to help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s:
● Exercise regularly – Experts recommend at least three hours of vigorous exercise a week that consists of two cardio workouts and one strength-training workout.
● Get enough sleep – Aim for at least 7.5 hours of shuteye a night.
● Eat a healthy diet – Follow a Mediterranean-style diet (eating meat and cheese and more fruits, vegetables, and olive oil).
● Have your blood checked – High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes can increase your Alzheimer’s risk.
● Take care of your mental health – Engage in activities you enjoy and talk to your doctor about issues such as anxiety or depression.
● Stop smoking – Or don’t start the habit.
● Protect your head – Wear your seatbelt, wear a helmet if you’re biking, and remove trip hazards from your home.
● Challenge your brain – Keep your brain active with activities such as taking a class or working on a crossword puzzle.
To find out more about how you may be able to reduce your Alzheimer’s risk or to discuss possible symptoms, make an appointment today with the neurologists at Boulevard Medical Healthcare in the Bronx, NY.