The ideas below come straight from a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) public health curriculum for Alzheimer's prevention yet the vast majority of physicians still maintain Alzheimer's can't be prevented. IMHO this information needs to get into the hands of these frontline providers and consistently delivered in an age appropriate manner to patients at every health screening. These general health recommendations aren't new, yet the connection to cognitive health isn't well known. Currently too many people people begin caring when symptoms begin to show and a significant amount of damage has already occurred. When I asked my neurologist for this information, I was told "Good luck with that." I know other members have been told to "Wait for it." Given the very long prodromal period (decades) doesn't it make sense to promote prevention?
1.) Avoid head trauma. Moderate or severe traumatic brain injury leads to an increased risk that remains for years after original injury. Prevention efforts include:
-Seat belt use (through education and policy)
-Use of helmets when bicycling and participating in certain sports (through education and policy)
-Falls prevention: Putting safety measures in place at home (such as reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars, and improving lighting)
-Exercise to improve balance and coordination
-Reviewing medicines and vision with health care provider
-Getting enough sleep
2.) Promote heart health. Growing evidence suggests a close link between the health of the heart and the health of the brain Several conditions known to increase the risk of
cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes also appear to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Many cardiovascular disease risk factors are modifiable; that is, they can be changed to decrease the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. Many experts believe that controlling cardiovascular risk factors may be the most cost-effective and helpful approach to protecting brain health. Modify cardiovascular risk by:
-Diet (DASH, Mediterranean)
3.) Avoid/manage Alzheimer’s disease risk factors. Growing evidence suggests that the avoidance and management of diabetes, high blood pressure(hypertension), and midlife obesity may reduce risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias. There is even stronger evidence that these factors may also help protect against cognitive decline in general. Preventing and managing these and other chronic diseases and conditions have been priorities of public health practice for many years. The increasing evidence base about the impact of these conditions on cognitive health must also be taken into account and incorporated into public health practice going forward. Prevent onset of or effectively manage conditions that can increase risk for Alzheimer’s:
-High blood pressure (hypertension)
4.) Maintain an active brain. In addition to the findings that years of formal education may be a preventative factor for Alzheimer’s disease, a number of studies indicate that keeping the brain active is
associated with lower risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Mentally stimulating activities may include:
-Learning new information and skills
-Playing challenging games (such as bridge, chess,
-Other studies have also suggested a link between social connections and cognitive health. Keeping strong social connections may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline
I can envision a public health campaign that piggybacks on Warren Buffets's metaphor below. If I knew the first car I got would have been my only car, I would have taken much better care if it. How about you?
When I was sixteen, I had just two things on my mind - girls and cars. I wasn't very good with girls. So I thought about cars. I thought about girls, too, but I had more luck with cars.
Let's say that when I turned sixteen, a genie had appeared to me. And that genie said, 'Warren, I'm going to give you the car of your choice. It'll be here tomorrow morning with a big bow tied on it. Brand-new. And it's all yours.'
Having heard all the genie stories, I would say, 'What's the catch?' And the genie would answer, 'There's only one catch. This is the last car you're ever going to ge tin your life. So it's got to last a lifetime.'
If that had happened, I would have picked out that car. But, can you imagine, knowing it had to last a lifetime, what I would do with it?
I would read the manual about five times. I would always keep it garaged. If there was the least little dent or scratch, I'd have it fixed right away because I wouldn't want it rusting. I would baby that car, because it would have to last a lifetime.
That's exactly the position you are in concerning your mind and body. You only get one mind and one body. And it's got to last a lifetime. Now, it's very easy to let them ride for many years. But if you don't take care of that mind and that body, they'll be a wreck forty years later, just life the car would be. It's what you do right now, today, that determines how your mind and body will operate ten, twenty, and thirty years from now.”