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Is It Alzheimer's?

Senior woman with Alzheimer's diseaseThe fact that you are reading this suggests you are concerned about Alzheimer's Disease and other causes of cognitive decline.

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In This Article:

Statistics on Alzheimer's Disease
Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease
Clinical Predictors We Cannot Control
Clinical Predictors We Can Control



You are not alone if you're one of the 78 million baby boomers approaching retirement years or the 40 million people in the United States, 65 years. By the year 2050, an estimated 40% of 65 year olds are likely to reach 90. Most Americans reaching 65 today have Clinical Predictors of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Modern medicine has failed us. We have increased our life span, but not our brain span. Alzheimer's disease has increased five fold in those over 65, and 12 fold in those under 65 in the past fifty years, despite medical advancements and tripling of our standard of living.

"In 1980, I diagnosed, on average, one patient a month with dementia; now in some weeks, I may diagnose 6-10 patients. It is a result of our SAD lifestyle - sedentary, stressed sleepless, aging with a diet full of carbohydrates and transfats," said Dr. Fortanasce.

Dr. Fortanasce says that we can change our habits at any age and still have an impact on our brain's fate. He especially wants parents to establish healthy habits for their children so they can live long, healthy lives and includes a diet for them in his book, The Anti-Alzheimer's Prescription."


THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL

Recent studies have indicated there is no medical treatment that prevents Alzheimer's Disease. The AD 2000 study which compared effects of the three leading drugs used for Alzheimer’s and placebo, concluded that these drugs (costing an average of $120/month) did not effect or delay the progression of the disease in any significant fashion. Those on the medication and those on placebo were admitted to nursing homes in a similar period of time.

The medical community which rarely agrees on anything, unanimously agrees that preventative measures are the only way to starve off Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore there are clinical predictors that can greatly increase your likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s or decreasing your likelihood.


CLINICAL PREDICTORS WE CANNOT CONTROL:

1. Age
2. Genetics
3. History of previous heart attack
4. Education



Age

Age is the number one predictor of Alzheimerss Disease. The symptoms occur 30 years after the damage has taken place. At 60 approximately 1% of that population will have Alzheimer's disease. This doubles, according to what epidemiological study you review, every 3-5 years every 5 years until one hits 75 years old, then it triples.


Genetics

Approximately 5% of the population has a genetic predisposition for Alzheimer's. If you has both parents with the disease, there is a 50% chance of developing it early. People with the APOE4 allele also have an increase risk of developing Alzheimer's. Unfortunately Alzheimer's disease is also twice as frequent in women as men. Part of this may be due to their increased longevity, biological body type and obesity factors. Women reaching 65 today have a 40% chance of turning 90.


History of previous heart attack

Those with a history of previous heart attack have more than twice the likelihood of developing dementia. Remember that not all dementias are Alzheimer's, some 20% are vascular in origin, and some a combination of both Alzheimer's and vascular. This is the reason that those patients with increased risks for cardiovascular disease also have an increased risk for Alzheimer's. The old adage, "as goes the body, goes the mind."


Education

Education is seen as a protector from Alzheimer's due to increased brain reserve. The opposite is also true. Those who have not developed cerebrally and have less reserve have an increase in Alzheimer's risk.


CLINICAL PREDICTORS WE CAN CONTROL:

1. Obesity (BMI over 30)
2. Insulin resistant diabetes
3. Diabetes
4. High blood pressure
5. High cholesterol
6.
Stress


*Ask your doctor to test: C-reactive protein, homocystiene, and vitamin deficiencies.



Obesity

Obesity in women may give a 300% increase in the likelihood of Alzheimer’s, meaning if at 60 years of age, you have a 1% chance of Alzheimer’s, this may increase your risk to 3%. Men show a 30% increase Alzheimer’s with a Body Mass Index over 30, or waist size of 40 or more.


Insulin resistant diabetes

This may increase the likelihood of Alzheimer's by two to four-fold according to some estimates. An important enzyme in the brain that decreases the brain's insulin is also used to decrease amyloid (the substance that is pathognomonic for Alzheimer's) so therefore if there is too much insulin, the brain removes the insulin, but does not remove the amyloid, resulting in amyloid destroying brain cells and brain connections.


Chronic stress

Chronic stress is becoming a major predictor in Alzheimer's. We all have stress and some stress is good as it provokes us to get things done, and in the long run decrease our overall stress. However stress that is defined by a frustration and inability to succeed or help oneself can cause an elevation in cortisol. Cortisol is regarded as one of the bad hormones that increases salt retention and therefore blood pressure. Chronic stress also provokes a decrease in a number of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, and serotonin which are nick-named the "happy and relaxing transmitters" and eventually provoke depression.


About the Author: Dr. Vincent Fortanasce is a renowned bio-ethicist, author, and radio show host with twenty years experience dealing with medical issues on a national and international level. His rehabilitation center was ranked in the top 10 on the West Coast in 2003, and Dr. Fortanasce was selected as in the top 100 physicians in Los Angeles County and Best Physicians in the USA in 1998. Over the past decade, he has treated such notables as the Dali Lama and Pope John Paul II.


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