Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment Oskaloosa IA
New Sharon, IA
By Allan Reder
National Public Radio’s Daniel Schorr is the kind of guy who would make any aging news junkie stand up and cheer. On July 19, 2006, Schorr turned 90, yet he still performs at an undiminished level in one of the most demanding jobs in today’s media. He began his career at CBS News in 1953 and joined NPR as its senior news analyst at 69, an age at which many of his colleagues had long been put out to pasture. In his position, he has to pack his cerebral hard drive with massive amounts of information, and then he has to possess the Pentium-esque agility to mine that information for insights worthy of NPR’s highly educated listeners. Schorr pulls off the challenge with effortless grace.
But Schorr’s beat-the-clock competence calls attention to an issue with implications for everything from lifestyle choices to national social policy. Because of advances in medical science, people are living much longer than ever before. The US Census Bureau projects that the number of elderly aged 85 and older will more than triple from about 4 million today to about 14 million by 2040. That includes many of us reading this article.
Unfortunately, we won’t all age like Daniel Schorr. Some of us will live out our dotage without all our marbles. Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia will rob us of our intellectual abilities, our short-term memories, our personalities, and even the ability to recognize the people we love the most. The prospect is terrifying—especially because researchers don’t yet understand exactly what causes Alzheimer’s (or dementia) or how to prevent it or even slow the destruction.
But they are making progress on those fronts. Lots of indicators point toward a health regimen that may preserve your mental capacities well into old age, and perhaps indefinitely. The even better news? If you’re already practicing a healthy lifestyle as that concept is currently understood, you may be most of the way home.
A New Understanding
No one fully knows what causes Alzheimer’s but the research community is beginning to feel it’s at least driving in the right neighborhood. Current thinking suggests that the disease results from a complex dance between several partners: lifestyle factors such as food choices, environmental factors such as educational level and previous head injuries, and a person’s inherited genes. Recently, scientists have focused on the strong link between cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. Mounting evidence suggests that cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and poor dietary habits also significantly boost the risk for Alzheimer’s in particular and cognitive decline in general.
For instance, a Finnish study involving nearly 1,500 subjects found that high cholesterol and blood pressure were even more tightly tied to Alzheimer’s than the so-called APOE-4 gene, the genetic risk factor associated with the most common form of the illness. Other studies corroborate thi...
Author: Allan Reder
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