Here is Dr. Keith Black, Chairman and Professor, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles and Director, Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at the world-renowned hospital. We are proud to have Dr. Black serve as a member of the My Brain Health Coaches Advisory Board!
Alzheimer disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease associated with cognitive decline and is the most common form of dementia in the elderly. Approximately 13% of people over the age of 65 and 45% over the age of 85 are estimated to have Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association over 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s – and that number is expected to rise to 15 million by 2050. While that is an alarming statistic, there is another one that is far more hopeful. A recent study released in July by the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference revealed that maintaining a healthy lifestyle – particularly adhering to healthy eating habits – can help maintain brain health. The report studied the diets of 6,000 older adults and determined that those who consistently followed a ‘Mediterranean diet’ of fruits, vegetables and whole grains had a 30-35% reduced risk of developing cognitive impairment. Other dementia-reducing risk factors to take into consideration include:
- Diabetes – problems with blood sugar control are among the modifiable risk factors for Alheimer’s.
- Low education – not using your brain enough is a factor that accounts for 7% of Alzheimer cases in the US.
- Obesity – carrying additional weight during midlife accounts for another 7% of US Alzheimer cases.
- High blood pressure – it is important to keep it in check as Alzheimer cases are often linked to hypertension.
- Smoking – Here’s yet another reason to quit smoking as cigarettes account for 11% of Alzheimer cases.
- Depression – When signs occur, treatment should be sought as a significant 15% of Alzheimer cases are due to depression.
- Too Little Exercise – Not enough physical activity is the number one preventable factor that contributes to Alzheimer’s disease. Because nearly one-third of adults in the US are sedentary, this high risk factor is dangerously common.