Medical Conditions That May Increase The Risk Of Dementia Local news

People often ask us, “Is there a way to prevent dementia?” Although we still don’t know much about this disease, research is developing ways to reduce the risk of developing it and many other chronic diseases.

Arterial hypertension

Untreated high blood pressure can lead to dementia.

Blood pressure measures the force applied to your arteries as blood flows through the body through the heart. A normal blood pressure reading is around 120/80 mmHg.

High blood pressure at any age can accelerate cognitive decline, according to a study published by the American Heart Association in December 2020. Researchers found that even slightly elevated blood pressure at middle age or older was linked to cognitive decline faster. But they also found that effective treatment for high blood pressure at any age through adulthood could reduce or prevent faster cognitive decline. According to the CDC, nearly half of adults have high blood pressure. Only one in four American adults with high blood pressure is in control.

Ways to reduce the risks: Eat a Mediterranean or DASH (Diet Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts; Losing an average of 11 pounds can reduce 4.4 points of systolic blood pressure and 3.6 points of diastolic blood pressure; Monitor your blood pressure at home to improve blood pressure management; Take your medicine to lower blood pressure.

Diabetes

Alzheimer’s disease has sometimes been referred to as “type 3 diabetes” because of a 56% increased risk in people living with type 2 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, 25% of people over the age of 65 and over in the United States have diabetes (diagnosed or undiagnosed) and about half have prediabetes.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, hyperglycemia or insulin can damage the brain in several ways:

  • Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which injure the heart and blood vessels. Damaged blood vessels in the brain can contribute to cognitive decline.
  • The brain depends on many different chemicals, which can be out of balance with too much insulin. Some of these changes can help trigger cognitive decline.
  • High blood sugar causes inflammation. This can damage brain cells and lead to the development of dementia.

People with type 1 diabetes are at greater risk of dementia than people with normal blood sugar. One study found that people with high blood sugar had a dramatic increase in beta-amyloid protein, a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found that even people with diabetes for less than 10 years had memory deficits and a smaller hippocampus size. The hippocampus is the usual starting point for Alzheimer’s disease.

Ways to reduce the risks: Preventing diabetes or high blood sugar may not prevent the development of dementia, but simple lifestyle changes can help prevent diabetes and reduce the risk. They are:

  • Follow your healthcare team’s recommendations for the most appropriate plan to monitor your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
  • Eat healthy foods including low-fat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, milk, and cheese.
  • If you are overweight, eat a healthy diet and exercise to lose weight. Obesity can lead to diabetes and other health problems.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Examine your feet daily for sores.
  • Take all prescribed medications on time.

By following these lifestyle changes, you can reduce your risk of dementia by 50%.

Hearing loss

Dementia is more common in people who have developed hearing problems in their forties (aged 40 to 65). This means that if a person’s hearing deteriorates in the middle of their life, their risk of developing dementia when they are older increases. There can be many reasons for this, including people with hearing problems may be more likely to withdraw from social situations and become more isolated over time. This can reduce their cognitive reserve. Straining to hear things can also make it harder for other mental processes to function properly. Diseases that cause dementia can also affect hearing.

Studies have shown that using a hearing aid can significantly reduce a person’s risk of dementia. It is important that a person has regular hearing tests as they get older. (Alzheimers.org.uk)

Down Syndrome

In middle age, most people with Down syndrome have the plaques and tangles of Alzheimer’s disease. (Healthline.com)

HIV

HIV / AIDS affects many organ systems in the body, including the brain and the nervous system. Most people don’t know that HIV infection actually reaches the brain early in the disease process. HIV encephalopathy is an infection that spreads throughout the brain. It is one of the causes of dementia in people infected with HIV. The more the infection spreads in the brain, the more the symptoms of dementia worsen. It is a serious consequence of HIV infection and is usually seen in the later stages of the disease.

Treatment usually includes antiretroviral therapy. This is an aggressive medical treatment aimed at reducing the amount of the AIDS virus in the body. It can also help relieve symptoms of dementia. Prescription drugs that your health care provider can recommend are antidepressants, antipsychotics, or stimulants. Which one to prescribe will depend on the cause of your dementia. (hopkinsmedicine.org)

Multiple sclerosis

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (nationalmssociety.org), cognitive dysfunction is common in MS. For most people, changes in cognitive function are mild and may involve one or two areas of cognitive functioning. For fewer people with MS, changes in cognitive function will be more difficult.

Rheumatoid arthritis

RA is a chronic disease that affects millions of Americans. Dementia, on the other hand, is associated with a decrease in cognitive abilities that interfere with daily life. Both diseases are associated with the elderly and with genetic factors. Besides the inflammation associated with RA, blood flow to vital body organs is reduced, which increases the risk of developing dementia. In addition, drugs used by patients with RA increase the risk of developing dementia. However, biologic therapies such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors can reduce the risk of dementia.

According to Rheumatology Advisor (rheumatologyadvisor.com), most studies, but not all, suggest that there is an increased risk of dementia in patients with RA. RA is associated with systemic inflammation, which has already been shown to be associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease. It has been well studied in RA and lupus. RA has been shown to increase the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke. It is believed that systemic inflammation in RA may be associated with microvascular disease in vascular dementia.

Additionally, many patients with RA take glucocorticoids, and these may be associated with weight gain and high lipid levels, both of which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Patients with RA may be relatively inactive compared to patients without RA, which may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Kidney disease

A study in Sweden supports the hypothesis that changes in kidney function could be a warning sign of developing dementia. As for the reasons for the apparent link between CRF (chronic kidney disease) and dementia, there could be a number of potential explanations, including that CRF and dementia both share traditional vascular risk factors, such as as hypertension and diabetes. Additionally, this CKD can lead to chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and other conditions associated with ischemic cerebrovascular injury.

While these and other causes require more study to be verified, investigators said their analysis should prompt doctors and policymakers to consider strategies for detecting dementia in patients with CRF. They said it might involve kidney function tests during dementia screening visits. Such a policy would also allow physicians to detect CRF early, an important factor given that awareness of CRF is still relatively low, they noted. (American Journal of Managed Care, AJMC.com)

Depression

People who have experienced periods of depression during their lifetime also have a higher risk of developing dementia. This may be because depression has long term adverse effects on the brain and the way a person thinks and deals with difficulties. Effective management of depression with treatment is helpful in reducing this risk. Many people develop depression a few years before they develop dementia. However, in these cases, it may be the development of dementia that is causing the depression. (alzheimers.org.uk)

Studies suggest that antidepressant treatment may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. (nature.com)

Effingham Area Alzheimer’s Awareness (EAAA) is a non-profit, voluntary organization founded to provide education and support to all families, caregivers and people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia in Effingham County and its surroundings. For more information on Effingham Area Alzheimer Awareness, see the website at www.effinghamalz.org. If you are a caregiver and have questions or specific situations you would like information about, please do not hesitate to call Shannon Nosbisch at 217-663-0010 or Amy Sobrino at 618-363-8372.


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