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Will Alzheimer's Be Cured One Day?


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Nearly 7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million.

 Will we ever find a treatment or will prevention be the key?

For more than a century, scientists have been studying Alzheimer’s Disease.

And while we know more about the brain and the genetics of the disease than ever before, what we still don’t know is how to cure it. 

A complex and complicated disease, current treatments, including a combination of medications along with cognitive stimulation, may help to slow the progression. But what if anything has been proven to actually prevent the disease? 

While genetics likely play a significant role, researchers agree lifestyle changes may be our best hope of delaying dementia or not developing it at all. They have identified the following modifiable risk factors that may contribute to increasing your risk:

  • Decreased physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use 
  • Lack of sleep
  • Social isolation
  • Hearing loss
  • Lack of cognitive engagement
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Smoking
  • Depression
  • Exposure to air pollution
  • Poor diet

So what does this mean for you? The more you can improve your overall lifestyle, experts say, the more you can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. These risk factors actually work in combination -  if there is tissue or functional loss in one part of the brain - other brain cells (neurons) will actually work harder to compensate. In theory, this means lifelong experiences and activities create a dam against the damages of disease and aging in the brain.

For example, studies have shown that exercise, cognitive and social engagement stimulate your brain and maintain its plasticity by growing new neural connections and building cognitive reserves.

The mechanism behind this is a combination of factors: increased oxygen and blood flow to the brain, stimulating growth factors that keep neurons healthy and reduced inflammation.

The opposite is also true. Poor sleep, diet, social isolation and untreated depression are linked to decreased cognitive reserve.

This June, Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, Hackensack Meridian Health Memory Loss & Brain Health experts are available to discuss all of this and more.