Alzheimer’s disease, a mental condition that impacts memory and behavior, is a scary consideration for many people. The disease currently has no known cure and the steady progression of it can cause many people who suffer from it to eventually lose the ability to complete everyday tasks and maintain their independence. Because the disease worsens over time, it can also lead to death. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
There is some good news, however, when it comes to Alzheimer’s.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers are beginning to see a decrease in the percentage of people developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Just as importantly, those who get Alzheimer’s appear to be developing it later on in life.
By examining five different research studies, researchers were able to show that there are positive trends in the cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s. While there may be more people overall in the coming years who are affected by Alzheimer’s, due to the greater amount of older adults, the percentage of people who suffer from it is decreasing. The researchers noted that these findings were likely due in large part to greater levels of education and increased heart disease prevention efforts. Co-author, Kenneth Langa, M.D., Ph.D, a professor at U-M Medical School noted:
We’re very encouraged to see a growing number of studies from around the world that suggest that the risk of dementia may be falling due to rising levels of education and better prevention and treatment of key cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Additional research studies have also found that physical activity, age of retirement, parent’s education status, social activity, and depression treatment may all play a role in preventing the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease.
As the researchers note in this recent study, while Alzheimer’s may still not have a cure, it’s encouraging to find that there are controllable lifestyle factors that play a factor in its incidence.
While the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are over the age of 65, there are also people who suffer from early onset Alzheimer’s in their 40s and 50s. The Alzheimer’s Association provides a list of the ten early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s to review if you believe that a loved one may be at risk. With healthy habits and careful monitoring, you may be able to drastically reduce your own risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Do you or somebody you know suffer from Alzheimer’s disease?
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