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Interesting and Useful Facts Concerning Dementia

Aug 17, 2007
So, you may think you're going to develop dementia some day. This is a common thought, especially if a relative of yours has a dementia related condition.

'Risk' is a word often bandied around. Someone's 'risk factors' are what constitutes their own personal risk, of, for example, getting Alzheimer's over a period of time. It is now known that a woman of 80 years has an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's compared with a 30 year old man. Whether or not either of them develops Alzheimer's is not known for definite.

So called 'risk factors' are aspects of people's lives that act to increase the chances of that person developing a condition. Risk factors are either controllable, or not.

Risk factors associated with dementia can be split between environmental and genetic. Everyone is potentially at risk, some people have a higher chance than others. People that appear more likely to gain dementia may never get the condition, someone with a lower chance may end up actually developing it. The best people can do is to try to lessen the risk factors, usually having the knock-on effect of making that individual healthier.

The largest factor governing whether or not you get dementia is age. Although dementia can start in our younger years the risk of developing the condition increase with age. Between the ages of 65 to 70 one in 50 people have been estimated to suffer from dementia. One in 5 people over 80 have dementia of some sort. As we age risk factors that play their part are thought to be diseases like strokes and heart disease, high blood pressure, DNA and cell structures, nerve cell changes, and lowered abilities to repair one's own body.

Women are thought to be a little more susceptible to generating dementia than men, even when the extra years women live for are removed. One theory is that lowered quantities of estrogen in women past their menopause may be a risk factor helping to develop the disease. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) used by menopausal women is not known to lower the chances of developing dementia, the converse may in actuality be true, dementia could in fact be made more likely with HRT.

Men are more susceptible to vascular dementia, largely as they tend to have higher blood pressures (from conditions like high blood cholesterol, diabetes and irregular heart rhythms) and more heart problems than women.

Genetic predispositions to acquiring dementia have been seen in some families. This area is not fully understood and has huge amounts of research targeted at it. Possible dementia causing diseases are Niemann-Pick disease, Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease. Inheritance seems to play a small part in whether or not someone gains dementia.

Specific genes have been found to increase the occurrence of Alzheimer's. 'Apolipoprotein E' (APOE) has been shown to aid the development of vascular dementia and Alzheimer's.

Particular medical conditions such as Down's syndrome, HIV and multiple sclerosis can increase the chance of you developing dementia, amongst many other types of condition. Dementia is more likely in your latter years if you experience mid-life obesity.

By simply eating healthily people's weights and therefore blood pressures can be controlled and kept at normal levels, thereby reducing the chances of dementia. Vitamins and anti-oxidants found are found in a whole variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. These compounds may protect your brain as well as prevent dementia. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, commonly found in oily fish, help to safeguard blood vessels and the heart. Large quantities of saturated fats have the negative effect of clogging the arteries.

Research has hinted at the idea of various herbs and spices (e.g. sage and curcumin), and caffeine, have a protective function on your brain. Vitamin E has been proposed to lessen dementia symptoms, vitamin A helping to protect the brain.

Smoking, drinking alcohol and receiving head injuries are all damaging to our health and can increase the likelihood of developing dementia. A small quantity of alcohol in, for example, the form of a glass of red wine each day may actually lower the risk of dementia by maintaining the health of our hearts, vascular system and brain. Severe or consistent head injuries may dramatically increase the risk of developing dementia by up to four time's normal levels. Boxers have been seen with a type of dementia known as 'Punch Drunk Syndrome'.

Aluminum has been seen as toxic and damaging to people's nervous systems. Currently measuring the levels of this commonly found element, in the body, are very difficult. Other trace elements like copper or zinc could have some important role associated with how proteins are processed in the brain. More research at present is required on the effects of metals.

Good levels of physical exercise lower the chance of dementia, maintaining a healthy vascular system and hear, in turn keeping the blood circulation about the brain high.

Levels of social and mental activities should be encouraged. Thinking a lot when young my increase the complexity of neural connections within the brain making the physical changes to a brain with dementia more easily coped with. Puzzles and crosswords and the like strengthen the connections in place in your brain.
About the Author
Alzheimers research is massive and ongoing. If you require up-to-date information on Alzheimer's try visiting http://www.alzheimersdiseasesupport.com/Experimental-Alzheimer-S-Research.php for easy to read and useful infomation from a variety of standpoints.
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