Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. About 1 in 3 people over 65 die from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
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Alzheimer’s disease is a primary cause of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease damages nerve cells in the brain. In the early stages, there may not be many, if any, symptoms. However, short-term memory loss is often the first sign. Over time, as more neurons are damaged, Alzheimer’s disease results in problems with judgment, language, and thought processes. Eventually, it affects a person’s ability to function and care for themselves.
The term dementia defines brain diseases related to memory loss and diminished cognitive skills. Alzheimer’s disease is probably the most recognized type, but other types of dementia exist.
- vascular dementia
- dementia with Lewy bodies
- mixed dementia
- dementia caused by Parkinson’s disease
- dementia caused by Huntington’s disease
- Statistics from 2022 estimate that there are more than 6.5 million people with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States.
There’s ongoing research into ways to prevent and manage Alzheimer’s disease. As science learns more about how Alzheimer’s disease develops, there may be ways to prevent or slow the progression. However, there are a few medical treatments available. The newest medication, Aduhelm (aducanumab), was just approved in June 2021. This medication reduces the buildup of beta-amyloid protein plaques in the brain. In Alzheimer’s disease, these plaques start to block and disrupt normal nerve cell function.
In Alzheimer’s disease, there’s a buildup of inflammatory proteins in the brain. Many chronic conditions, including diabetes and heart disease, are also shown to involve inflammation. So, talk to your doctor if you are at risk for diabetes or heart disease.
Other recommendations include:
- eating an anti-inflammatory diet, such as the Mediterranean way of eating
- regular monitoring of blood pressure and treatment with dietary changes, activity, and medications, as needed
- quitting or cutting down on smoking if you smoke
- practicing physical activity
- managing cholesterol levels with dietary changes and medications as needed
- monitoring blood sugar levels and managing prediabetes or diabetes with dietary changes, physical activity, and medications as needed
Heart disease may also be a cause of vascular dementia, which results from narrowed blood vessels in the brain. This leads to a decrease in oxygen to brain tissues.
For more information, visit the Alzheimer’s Disease Facts (healthline.com)
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Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public to learn more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.
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