Preventing Alzheimer’s

A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that levels of blood sugar directly relate to risk for dementia. After investigating over 2,000 elderly individuals for an average of 6.8 years they discovered that even small elevations of blood sugar translated into a significant increased risk for dementia, even for those without diabetes.

This profound discovery goes great length in terms of defining an at risk population for an incurable brain disorder. But even with the potential impact on public health, these findings received close to no media attention.

(Related: Elder Home Care Workers – A Growing Workforce)

The United States has been granted the distinction of ranking first in terms of increased number of deaths from neurological diseases including dementia. Prof. Colin Pritchard and colleagues from Britain’s Bournemouth University evaluated causes of death in the 10 largest Western countries between 1979 and 2010. During that period, deaths in America related to brain conditions rose a shocking 66% in men and 92% in women.

In a recent RAND study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, costs for dementia care in 2010 were estimated to be as high as $200 billion, roughly twice that expended for heart disease and nearly triple what was spent on treating cancer patients.

(Related: Recognizing the Early Signs of Dementia)

In America, there are currently 5.4 million Alzheimer’s disease patients, a number that is expected to double by 2030. These shocking statistics offer motivation for pharmaceutical companies to develop drug strategies to cure or at least slow the inexorable mental decline characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. With that said, the most recent and promising drug treatment for Alzheimer’s disease failed to deter the disease and worsened functional ability while increasing the risk for infection and skin cancers.

(Related: Probate Battles and The National Enquirer Heirs)

Research indicates that up to 54% of Alzheimer’s cases in the U.S. could have been avoided if proper attention was given to various modifiable lifestyle factors, including diet and physical activity, as published in the journal The Lancet Neurology.

Mayo Clinic researchers indicate that risk for mild cognitive impairment, the harbinger for Alzheimer’s disease, or full-blown dementia is an astounding 42% lower in elderly folks who consume a diet higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates.

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