Developing brain disease is a great fear for those who are moving into their later decades. While there is no known cure for or prevention of Alzheimer’s disease most other brain diseases have a much better prognosis.
It is estimated that 5.3 million Americans have. That includes 5.1 million individuals aged 65 or older and an estimated 200,000 individuals suffering from ’s below the age of 65. Along with Alzheimer’s, that result in some form of cognitive brain disorders are increasing in our rapidly aging global society.
Vascular dementia, (sometimes also referred to as multi-infarct, post-stoke dementia or vascular cognitive impairment), is the 2nd most common form of dementia. It is caused by decreased blood flow to parts of the brain, often due to blocked arteries or a series of small strokes. While sometimes overlapping with Alzheimer’s, memory may not be as seriously affected. Sudden and severe personality changes are not uncommon, however.
Other forms of brain disease occur with “mixed dementia”. Some characteristics of Alzheimer’s may be evident, but more often as a result of vascular dementia orinduced as in the case with many Parkinson patients.
High cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and a couch potato lifestyle of physical inactivity all are cardiovascular risk factors that increase the incidence of brain disease, vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. The good news is that all of these are able to be changed, controlled and/or eliminated by concerned individuals.
There are preventions for many forms of brain disease. There is a growing body of research findings that provide evidence that underscores the link between the overall health of the heart and other vascular organs and the onset of brain diseases in the form of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
Education is the key. High cholesterol not only puts you at risk for heart attack and stroke, it is a major contributing factor to one’s brain health. Smoking can not only be a cause of cancer, it increases your likelihood of contracting some form of brain disease. Watch a lot of TV, but read little? You’re increasing your chances for dementia and poor brain health. And when they say that drinking too much alcohol kills brain cells, they’re right. In more ways than you might imagine.
New data is suggesting that a low fat diet rich in vegetables and fruit, (the “Mediterranean Diet”), supports good brain health and a reduction in brain diseases. Developing and maintaining a lifestyle that features an active social network also reduces risk factors. Those who are “life-long learners” are also shown to be at reduced risk. Continued mental stimulation as an adult driven by intellectual curiosity will also help stave off a range of brain disease. As adults, it’s important to always challenge ourselves to learn new skills and fresh information.
USE IT OR LOSE IT
Most of us know older individuals who despite having
received a limited formal education are still “sharp as a tack”. If you examine their daily lifestyle, chances are you’ll find these individuals are still active in their houses of worship,
volunteerism, crossword puzzle solvers and interested readers of a wide range
of subject matter. They’ve chosen a lifestyle that suits them and also provides exercise for their brain, resulting in reduced rates of brain disease.