While it is generally believed there is little an individual can do to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s in those with a pre-disposition for this disease. Doctors have discovered there many preventive actions healthy individuals can take to prevent the formation of abnormal protein deposits (plague) that eventually destroy brain cells.
Doctors now believe clogged arteries and reduced blood flow to the brain contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s. In many cases seniors who later have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s have suffered from a series of mini-strokes, leading doctors to conclude that restricted blood flow in arteries and blood vessels is a major contributor to the abnormal plague deposits.
Doctors do recommend prevention steps that can reduced the probability of increased build up to plaque and the resulting reduction in blood flow which may lead to a stroke or in time Alzheimer’s.
The most important step one can take is to maintain control of blood pressure as high blood pressure narrows the blood vessels and reduced blood flow. When blood flow to the brain is reduced brain cells are denied oxygen and may be damaged or die, opening the door for the onset of Alzheimer’s. Preliminary studies reported in the British Medical Journal have shown that those people with mild hypertension (blood pressure exceeding 130 to 140 systolic blood pressure were twice as likely to become Alzheimer’s victims.
An increasing number of studies are showing a direct correlation between the onset of Alzheimer’s and a decreased flow of oxygen to the brain. This is most often the result of clogged or compressed arteries and blood vessels, many of which are damaged by excessive blood pressure.
Many victims of Alzheimer’s have suffered numerous mini-strokes without their knowledge. Theses minor strokes kill off brain cells with each occurrence but go unnoticed until after many multiple strokes the damage results in diagnosable Alzheimer’s.
Many doctors believe that control of blood pressure is the single most effective preventative step one can take to avoid Alzheimer’s. Keeping blood pressure below 120/80 is the recommended healthy level.
Losing weight, maintaining a daily exercise regime, quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy, non-fat diet are among the best ways to keep blood pressure down and at a healthy level.
The second most important line of defense against Alzheimer’s is found in maintenance of cholesterol levels. Much like high blood pressure narrows blood vessels and arteries excessively high levels of cholesterol can narrow have the same effect by depositing heavy levels of plague on the walls of blood vessels and can eventually restrict or even shut-off completely blood (and oxygen) flow to the brain and further damage brain cells.
The same study references above (British Medical Journal) found that patients with cholesterol levels exceeding 250 mg/dl were twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when compared to those with normal (below 150) cholesterol levels.
Doctors maintain that the best defense against high cholesterol is daily exercise, maintaining and healthy diet and quitting smoking. A major step forward in the control of cholesterol was taken when nutritional information was added to packaged food sources. This allows us to be aware of foods that contribute to high cholesterol and avoid these.
A diet leading to brain health includes a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, frequent (twice a week) consumption of baked, broiled or grilled (not fried) fish a week, and moderate consumption of alcohol. Two glasses of red wine, two glasses of beer, or one drink of liquor daily actually help the brain function, but doctors warn consuming significantly greater quantities of alcohol by older people can be harmful and can lead to memory loss.
In addition to diet control and regular exercise doctors recommend that we all develop a routine for “brain exercise”. This can be as simple as doing daily crossword puzzles or find-a -word puzzles or and of a number of fun, but challenging brain teasing exercise daily.
The main point to be made is that there are preventive steps that can be taken to avoid Alzheimer’s. No one needs to sit back a wait to see if he or she is the unlucky victim of this horrible disease.