Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease: 3 Strategies To Prevent Cognitive Loss With Age
This past week I went to the International Menopause Society conference which had a good deal of research on aging, both for men and women.
Victor Henderson, MD, a neurologist at Stanford gave a very interesting lecture on strategies to prevent cognitive loss with aging.
He described three different scenarios with respect to brain aging:
- Normal brain aging which involves age-associated changes that do not in themselves cause dementia.
- Abnormal brain aging which involves age-associated changes that can in themselves cause dementia.
- Mild cognitive impairment which represents an intermediary stage of abnormal brain aging.
Alzheimer’s disease is most likely diagnosed in those with mixed pathologies of the above three scenarios.
The 3 strategies to prevent Alzheimer’s are:
Maintain Brain Health:
Dr. Henderson states to maintain brain health one needs to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by treating high blood pressure, reducing your risk of diabetes, treating high cholesterol, maintaining a healthful weight, and not smoking.
Enhance Cognitive Function:
To enhance one’s cognitive reserve environmental enrichment is essential. Continuing one’s education, having regular social engagement, and engaging in activities, which stimulate the brain such as crossword puzzles, learning a language, etc. are important to prevention.
Reduce the Burden of Alzheimer’s Pathology
To reduce the burden of Alzheimer’s pathology regular aerobic exercise is essential as well as regular adequate sleep.
Regular aerobic exercise can reduce Alzheimer’s by as much as 29%, and sleep substantially reduces sticky plaque that can build up in the brain known as beta-amyloid. Low dose estrogen therapy for women in early menopause also reduced beta amyloid and enhanced cognitive performance.
Take home message?
Taking care of your brain requires regular exercise, adequate rest, and keeping your brain active by continual learning and social engagement. It appears most of these principles are those that also prevent diabetes, cardiovascular and other diseases. Healthy behaviors put multiple deposits in your health bank account leading to continual compounded interest.
How’s that for health richness and savings?