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Alzheimer’s: A Disease that Leaves No Survivors

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But worry not, if you under the age of 65 the chances of getting Alzheimer’s are slim. So what is Alzheimer’s exactly?

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and the decline of other cognitive abilities. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for between 60 to 80 percent of such cases.

The greatest known risk factor is age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 or older. But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (linked with a rare recessive gene). After 65 the risk of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every five years. After age 85, the risk reaches nearly 50 percent. That’s a terrifying thought, but it gets worse…

Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. And is the only disease among the 10 leading causes of deaths in the United States that cannot at this time be cured.

Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to twenty years. Patients nearing the final stage of the disease are no longer able to respond to their surroundings or communicate with others. While they may still utter words and phrases, they have no insight into their condition and need assistance with all aspects of daily life. In these final stages patients may no longer even swallow food on their own. 

Alzheimer’s is a truly frightening disease that affects the patient and their loved ones.

Currently no preventative measures have been established nor do we know exactly what causes this destructive disease. However, a number of studies have shown correlations between different lifestyle choices and AD.

In our next article, we’ll go over some of the major findings and as well as the evidence-based strategies we can implement in our daily lives to potentially delay or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Stay tuned!

Works Cited and Suggested Reading

Eggermont, Laura, et al. “Exercise, cognition and Alzheimer’s disease: more is not necessarily better.” Neuroscience & biobehavioral reviews 30.4 (2006): 562-575.

Intlekofer, Karlie A., and Carl W. Cotman. “Exercise counteracts declining hippocampal function in aging and Alzheimer’s disease.” Neurobiology of disease 57 (2013): 47-55.

Lindsay, Joan, et al. “Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease: a prospective analysis from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging.” American journal of epidemiology 156.5 (2002): 445-453.

Prasanthi, Jaya RP, et al. “Caffeine protects against oxidative stress and Alzheimer’s disease-like pathology in rabbit hippocampus induced by cholesterol-enriched diet.” Free Radical Biology and Medicine 49.7 (2010): 1212-1220.

Sabat, Steven R. The experience of Alzheimer’s disease: Life through a tangled veil. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001.

Scarmeas, Nikolaos, et al. “Mediterranean diet and risk for Alzheimer’s disease.” Annals of neurology 59.6 (2006): 912-921.