Dementia praecox: how to overcome cognitive decline

Dementia praecox: how to overcome cognitive decline

Dementia is a disease most often associated with aging, a consequence of a gradual decline in cognitive abilities that gradually leads to problems with memory, thinking and problem solving. But new research published in the Dementia Care Journal warns that it can also strike much earlier, around 40.

“In the study, we exposed a hidden population of people with early onset dementia that hadn’t been recognized before,” says Dr Janet Carter, associate professor of mental health neuroscience at University College London and main author of the new article. “That number is probably just the tip of the iceberg.”

Figures released by the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland (ASI) show that there are around 4,066 people with “early onset” dementia, defined as the development of symptoms including memory and behavior problems, usually between 30 and 65 years old. The new findings, which explode the myth that cognitive decline only occurs with aging, show that increasing numbers of people in their 40s, 50s and 60s are being diagnosed with the disease. For many cases of early-onset dementia, the cause is still unclear and individual risk is likely due to a complex interplay of genes, lifestyle and age.

But there’s a lot you can do to reduce your risk of developing late-life dementia.

What are the warning signs?

Unlike dementia later in life, memory loss is less common as an early symptom in younger people, and the majority of young adults who report memory problems are unaffected. “Usually young people first present with non-memory issues, such as language or visual symptoms, and impaired thinking and planning skills,” Carter says. “Behavioral changes with impairment or loss of speech and sometimes inappropriate social behavior are other signs.”

Too often, these symptoms are mistaken for stress or depression and anxiety, or mistakenly attributed to other causes including menopause, physical health issues, and relationship issues at first encounters. If you notice any signs in yourself or someone else, seek help as soon as possible, ASI advises.

Do you need a genetic test?

For a very small number of people with early onset dementia, a genetic mutation passed down from generation to generation is the cause of certain rare types of Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal dementia. In the case of so-called “familial” Alzheimer’s disease, for example, a faulty gene that leads to an abnormal buildup of a protein called amyloid in the brain that causes the clusters or “plaques” characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, is transmitted directly from a parent who has the condition.

Research shows that people with a faulty gene will develop Alzheimer’s disease and their children have a 50% chance of inheriting the gene from them. If there is a pattern of Alzheimer’s disease affecting each generation at a young age in your family, genetic testing in the form of a blood test to confirm a genetic mutation may be available.

According to the ASI, you should talk to your doctor about genetic counseling to find out if it’s right for you.

Get seven consistent hours of sleep per night

If midlife stress is causing you to miss out on valuable sleep, it could wreak havoc in the long run. Last year, a study conducted in Nature Communication of nearly 8,000 people in Britain, aged 50 to 70, rated the number of hours they slept per night six times between 1985 and 2016. Some of the participants wore accelerometers to objectively measure sleep time .

“Results showed that people in their 50s and 60s who slept six hours or less were at higher risk of developing dementia later in life,” Carter said. “Compared to those who sleep normally, defined as seven hours, those who rest less each night were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.”

This suggests that short sleep duration during midlife may increase the risk of developing dementia later in life, Carter says, “although further research is needed to confirm and understand the reasons.”

Genetic factors and lack of sleep are considered factors in early dementia
Genetic factors and lack of sleep are considered factors in early dementia

Keep your waistline under control

Weight gain and obesity are known risk factors for certain types of dementia and people who are overweight in middle age have an increased risk of developing the disease, according to research from a UK study for a long time in the International Journal of Epidemiology which followed 6,000 people over the age of 50 for an average of 11 years.

Men and women who were obese and had a large waist circumference had a 28% increased risk of dementia.

Being overweight also increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, another known risk factor for brain disease. A recent study of 10,000 participants with a follow-up of 32 years, published in JAMAshowed that people with younger-onset type 2 diabetes were younger at onset of dementia if they developed this.

Brisk walking 2h30 per week

Regular exercise is important for the prevention of dementia and poor cardiovascular health has been shown to damage blood flow to the brain, increasing the risk of developing this disease. A nine-year study involving 649,605 people presented at the American Academy of Neurology conference in February by researchers at the Washington VA Medical Center showed that people with the highest levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were 33% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who were less fit. . The researchers recommended brisk walking most days, “for a total of two and a half hours or more per week” to achieve a protective effect on fitness in middle-aged and older people.

“The idea that you can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease simply by increasing your activity is very promising, especially since there are no adequate treatments to prevent or halt the progression of the disease,” said said Edward Zamrini, assistant clinical research professor at George Washington University and the paper’s lead author.

Eat healthy and consider a supplement

According to the ASI, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and grains and low in red meat and sugar while keeping alcohol within the recommended limits of no more than 14 units per week could help reduce the risk of dementia. Although no supplement protects against dementia, researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina recently reported that three years of multivitamin supplementation resulted in roughly a 60% slowdown – or about 1 .8 years – from cognitive decline. They compared the effects of taking a daily 500 mg cocoa extract supplement, rich in beneficial compounds called flavanols, or a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement that provided several nutrients needed for normal brain function. .

“Our study showed that although cocoa extract did not affect cognition, daily multivitamin and mineral supplementation resulted in statistically significant cognitive improvement,” says Laura D Baker, professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest. . “This is the first evidence of a cognitive benefit in a large, longer-term study of multivitamin supplementation in older adults,” Baker says. “It’s too early to recommend daily multivitamin supplementation to prevent cognitive decline,” but if you don’t want to leave anything to chance. might consider taking one.

  • Centrum Silver 50+ was the supplement provided to trial participants, but look for any supplement containing a long list of vitamins and minerals, and lutein, important for healthy vision and brain function.

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