U-M study: Alzheimer’s risk declines

U-M study: Alzheimer’s risk declines

Posted on November 30, 2013 by ECR Louisville in Alzheimers Care, Blog, Caregiver Education, Memory Loss

Thank you Thomas Russell of Louisville, Kentucky for finding this article.

U-M study: Alzheimer’s risk declines

Effort to control blood pressure, cholesterol among factors cited

KIM KOZLOWSKI
THE DETROIT NEWS

NOVEMBER 30, 2013 AT 1:00 AM
Exercising the brain and controlling risk factors for heart disease are behind a significant decline in the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease over the past two decades, according to research published this week by a University of Michigan physician.

The findings, published in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed five recent studies from around the world that concluded the risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is lower today than it was 20 years ago. One study showed that the risk was 25 percent lower than the early 1990s.

The two primary explanations: higher education levels and the focus on preventing and treating cardiovascular risks such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Previous studies have shown that regular exercise and social interactions, early and continuing education and deferring retirement contribute to a lowered risk of dementia.

The results show that people can take steps to diminish their chances of dementia later in life, especially in an era when there are no meaningful interventions for the incurable disease, said Dr. Kenneth Langa, a professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and co-author of the research.

“The evidence keeps growing that there are positive things we can do (to diminish risk of dementia),” said Langa, research investigator at the Center for Clinical Management Research, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. “How much using your brain throughout your life is important for keeping it healthy.”

Dementia is an umbrella term for a cognitive decline in individuals that interferes with daily living. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.

The study comes as the aging baby boom generation is expected to live longer with advances in medical technology. Currently, there are 5.2 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease. It costs $203 billion annually to care for them, including $142 billion to Medicare and Medicaid, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

By 2050, the number of people age 65 and over expected to have Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple to 13.8 million, with their care costs soaring to $1.2 trillion.

“Recent attention and resources have been directed at identifying preclinical dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease, and at preventive-drug trials that enroll the very few persons who are at extremely high risk for the disease,” the article said. “Although this strategy is important for the development of effective treatments, the recent studies highlighted above illustrate the potential for deriving widespread public health benefits from such lifestyle interventions as improving educational opportunities in both early and later life, reducing vascular risk factors, and promoting greater physical activity.”

Besides Langa, other authors of the study were Dr. Eric B. Larson, executive director of Group Health Research Institute, a Seattle-based research arm of a nonprofit health system; and Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a professor of psychiatry, neurology, and epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

On Dec. 11, the journal will post a podcast of Larson discussing the article.

KKozlowski@detroitnews.com

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131130/LIFESTYLE03/311300023#ixzz2m9uxHC6b