(ORDO NEWS) — Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, affects millions of people around the world. However, research is drawing attention to several risk factors, the elimination of which can prevent the development of the disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease (progressive damage to the brain that leads to the death of neurons) characterized by progressive memory loss and a decrease in certain intellectual (cognitive) functions, which causes disturbances in daily activities.
Symptoms change over time and vary from person to person. The most common symptom is memory problems.
For a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease to be associated with some kind of cognitive dysfunction. The disease is accompanied by speech disorders (aphasia), difficulty performing certain movements (apraxia), difficulty recognizing objects or people (agnosia), and loss of the ability to adapt one’s behavior to a particular context.
The exact causes of the disease have not been established, but ongoing research on this topic allows a better understanding of the biological mechanisms. It is known that Alzheimer’s disease occurs when there are two neuropathological lesions in the brain. These are extracellular deposits of beta-amyloid protein and intracellular deposits of tau protein.
These foci progress over time from the hippocampal region to the entire cerebral cortex, causing progression of disorders, aphasia, apraxia, visuospatial disturbances, and executive dysfunctions.
Diseases that cause similar signs, such as vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, are also claimed to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Early diagnosis is essential
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but proper management of the disease can slow its progression and improve the lives of the patient and those around them. It is very important to act in a timely manner.
If you complain of recurring problems that interfere with daily life, you should definitely contact a specialist. It is very important to diagnose the disease as early as possible. Diagnosis is based primarily on a history of the disorder, as well as tests of cognitive function. Allows you to assess the nature and severity of disorders (memory impairment, impaired spatial and temporal orientation, executive functions, and so on), to investigate behavioral and affective disorders.
Early diagnosis is facilitated by brain imaging, which can reveal abnormalities associated with the disease. Decreased brain volume, especially in the posterior regions, and hippocampal atrophy can be detected using imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging.
Biomarkers may also be helpful in clarifying the diagnosis. There are three markers of the disease that can be measured in the cerebrospinal fluid. These are beta-amyloid protein, tau protein and phosphorylated tau protein. Sometimes, similar tests are used to diagnose other degenerative diseases (frontotemporal degeneration, dementia with Lewy bodies, and so on) or vascular diseases, which can be similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
Early signs of Alzheimer’s disease
Unfortunately, there is currently no standard test to detect Alzheimer’s before symptoms appear. At the same time, the priority goal is to diagnose the disease as early as possible, identifying its first signs, and to improve the quality of life of people as much as possible.
Memory impairment is not always a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. And only a specialist can make a diagnosis.
The first warning signs, even if they are not related to Alzheimer’s disease, are as follows.
- Change in personality and behavior.
- Forgetting recent events.
- Impaired object recognition.
- Speech disorders (forgetting common words or replacing them with others).
- Difficulty performing routine tasks.
- Loss of orientation in space and time.
- Disruption of reasoning.
- Violation of sound judgment.
- Loss of motivation.
Six factors that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
The risk of Alzheimer’s disease is primarily associated with age. Among the population under the age of 65, less than 2% are affected by this disease. Gender is also an important factor: 60% of patients are women. However, despite this, it is possible to reduce the risk by influencing other identified factors.
Here are six parameters that, according to new research, increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Cardiovascular disease
Research shows that the higher a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, the higher their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In particular, it is known that high blood pressure can cause cognitive impairment. To maintain blood pressure within normal limits, it is necessary to have a normal weight, control salt intake, do not drink alcohol, and engage in physical activity.
Tobacco and nicotine are also enemies of the brain. Smoking cessation delays the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders.
In addition, research suggests that high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. To maintain normal cholesterol levels, a balanced diet and regular physical activity are recommended.
Another risk factor is type 2 diabetes, which usually occurs after the age of 30. This is a sign of a change in how brain cells communicate with each other. Supervision by a specialist is recommended to maintain a stable blood sugar level. In most cases, insulin helps. However, it should be taken into account that Alzheimer’s disease impairs the body’s ability to respond to insulin.
2. Level of education and cognitive activity
Research shows that the more developed and used the brain, the more brain connections it has and the lower the risk of developing some form of dementia.
Therefore, a low level of education is considered as a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It is assumed that intellectual stimulation can alleviate the consequences of the disease. A developed brain is thought to be more resistant to dementia attacks.
3. Head injury
Past head trauma also influences the development of dementia later in life. This is especially true for conditions that can weaken the brain, accompanied by a loss of consciousness for more than five minutes.
Depression, which in some cases is considered a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, is actually a risk factor. Periods of depression increase the levels of harmful chemicals in the brain. And, therefore, increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Sleep disorders
As with depression, there is also a link between Alzheimer’s disease and sleep disorders. During sleep, the brain is cleared of toxins. And especially in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, deposits of beta-amyloid proteins are excreted from the body during sleep.
6. Chronic stress
Chronic stress is bad for overall health. Cortisol, the stress hormone, has a particularly strong effect on memory. In addition, stress also affects the health of the heart and blood vessels, weakens the immune system, which helps fight dementia.
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org