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Alzheimer's Disease & Prevention - DementiaGuide.com
   
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Alzheimer's Disease

Prevention

The prevention of Alzheimer's disease is an important and exciting topic.

About 20 years ago, there would not have been much support given to the idea that Alzheimer's disease could be prevented. In those days, there was a pretty rigid wall between diseases such as Alzheimer's disease which is said to be neurodegenerative in origin, and dementia following a stroke which is said to be vascular in origin. Vascular means that the dementia resulted from problems with the blood vessels, while neurodegenerative means that the dementia is a result of a loss of neurons in the brain. It seems more likely however that even neurodegenerative disorders are caused by or made worse by vascular risk factors. Therefore, the best advice is to get good control of vascular risk factors. The most common ones are high blood pressure , high cholesterol , smoking and a sedentary lifestyle .

There is some very limited evidence that supplemental folic acid , in a dose of 400 micrograms per day, might lower the risk for Alzheimer's disease. There is also some thought that a supplemental multivitamin might do the same. It is not clear, however, if these effects are seen because people who take vitamins are more likely to have a healthy lifestyle, and it is this healthy lifestyle which is preventative. On the other hand, there seems to be little harm in such routine vitamin use, so added to other factors, itcan be considered protective.

There is reasonably good evidence that lifelong exercise is helpful and important. An optimal exercise regimen actually sounds quite daunting to people who haven't started it because it seems about 50 minutes per day of exercise, 4 days of week is needed to obtain a good effect at an individual level. However, like anything else it is possible to work up to this. There are many excellent programs for taking up daily exercise that start much more moderately, such as 15 minutes per day, 2 days a week.

It has also been observed that people who live in a more social environment tend to have a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease than people who live in isolation. Again, exactly how this works is not clear but it is interesting that "living the good life" with a lot of interaction with family and friends might have good health benefits.

Also there is some limited evidence that small doses of red wine (1-2 glasses per day) can be preventative for Alzheimer's disease. People who already have this as part of their lifestyle can feel encouraged, but there is not enough evidence as of yet to take up red wine to prevent Alzheimer's disease.

There has been a fair amount of work done recently that suggests a more active mind is more resistant to Alzheimer's disease than a less active mind. Thus, engaging in stimulating activities such as reading, or conversation is felt to be protective for Alzheimer's disease. Again, it boils down to living a "good life."

 

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Last updated September 18, 2017
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