When we think of Alzheimer’s disease, many understand that this is a disease of ongoing, progressive deterioration in thinking. Our thinking ability and problem solving cognitive function- and our memory declines.
But it is also associated with other features such as depression and impaired gait. Early studies now suggest that this kind of non-brain sign, if you will, may be early signs of Alzheimer’s.
This week’s Archives of Neurology is a study that asks if muscle strength is related to Alzheimer’s. It is known that BMI and physical activity are related to the risk of AD, but it is not clear if muscle strength has an independent relation to Alzheimer’s.
The authors looked at 900 dementia-free people and nine different muscle groups in the arms and legs and strength through the body core. The participants were followed for close to four years, and by then, 24% had developed Alzheimer’s.
Those who did develop dementia were found to be older, had a lower cognitive function, and showed decreased strength in several muscles compared to those participants who did not develop Alzheimer’s.
Each 1-U increase in muscle strength was associated with a 43% decrease in the risk of Alzheimer’s. Participants with a higher level of muscle strength (90th percentile) had a 61% decrease in developing Alzheimer’s.
In addition, the authors looked at the development of a precursor to AD called MCI (mild cognitive impairment). They found that of the 275 who developed MCI, those with muscle strength in the 90 percentile had a 48% decrease of developing MCI.
It was also interesting that those with greater muscle strength had a slower rate of decline. It would seem that there might be a common cause that underlies both muscle loss and cognition in aging.
So the question then is loss of muscle strength a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, or is there some common reason that muscle strength declines and Alzheimer’s starts? It has been suggested that our energy-making cells (called mitochondria) might get damaged over time.
The energy factories are often located in muscles, and the damaged factories might lead to decreased strength and other signs of aging. It might be possible that stroke or mini-strokes could weaken the muscles and unmask AD.
So what does this mean practically? First, it is entirely possible that maintaining muscle strength through exercise and a healthy lifestyle could be one more way to reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
These observations support the view that exercise has a beneficial effect of reducing the risk of developing significant cognitive loss and dementia. Yet one more reason to keep moving!
Alzheimer’s Disease – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Alzheimer’s disease is a set of conditions that affect the areas of the brain that regulate memory, thought, and language.
The disease of Alzheimer’s is growing increasingly widespread. It is believed that there are 18 million people in the world suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
The disease is the nervous system characterized by the loss of specific mental abilities. The loss is so severe as to affect normal life and lasts for at least six months.
The term dementia refers to the decline in brain function, resulting in loss of memory, diminished speaking abilities, and behavioral and emotional disorders.
As the disease progresses, people lose the capacity to perform tasks that are familiar as well as to think and to make judgments.
Personality, mood, and communication abilities may be affected too. Individuals with AD generally die within eight years of being diagnosed.
However, certain individuals could die within one year following diagnosis, while some may endure as long as 20 years.
Alzheimer’s disease is progressive, so that the symptoms will get worse with time. The problem of language is also common for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
The Alzheimer’s patient may have trouble identifying time and location. For instance, dress late at night or wander off and become lost. People and surroundings can confuse.
The condition typically advances to the point where it becomes difficult for patients to be accepted by others or be able to comprehend other people. In the last stages, the patient becomes sick and bedridden.
Free radicals are a third factor in the creation of plaques and tangles. Free radicals are highly active chemicals that can form in the brain and damage brain cells. The antioxidants are chemical compounds that can react with free radicals and eliminate them.
Unfortunately, there is an effective treatment for the disease Alzheimer’s. However, medications may help slow the progression of the disease or ease certain symptoms and delay the requirement for treatment. Other treatments and services are also available.
Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease
The causes that cause Alzheimer’s disease aren’t yet understood. Alzheimer’s is caused by the loss of brain cells and changes to the brain’s cortex. Free radicals are a third factor that causes the formation of plaques and tangles.
Free radicals are highly active chemicals that can form in the brain and damage brain cells. The antioxidants are chemicals that interact with free radicals and eliminate them. A further risk is an inheritance.
Families whose members have experienced AD tend to be more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than people whose families don’t have this type of history. If you suffer from hypothyroidism or suffer head injuries are also at an increased risk of AD.
Certain environmental factors have been suggested as causes of Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
The first symptom associated with Alzheimer’s is the loss of memory. However, memory loss isn’t a sign that someone has Alzheimer’s disease. A few memory issues are normal as we get older.
Alzheimer’s sufferers may experience a loss of sense of timing and space. For instance, dress in late at night or leave and wander off. In the beginning stages of this disease, relatives or friends might notice changes in their behavior.
The disease advances memory loss increases, and some sufferers have difficulties developing new techniques. Behavior changes can appear more apparent, with people doing or saying things that are completely out of normal behavior.
Sometimes, people are depressed because they realize what’s occurring to them. As they progress through the last stages of the disease, patients with Alzheimer’s can completely depend on others for their care.
The ability to walk can become difficult, and urinary incontinence could occur.
Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease
There is no cure currently and almost no cure for the disease of Alzheimer’s. However, certain medications may assist in slowing down the process or alleviate some symptoms and may delay the requirement for long-term treatment.
A kind of drug known as cholinesterase inhibitors is prescribed to those suffering from moderate Alzheimer’s disease. They reduce the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Its levels are lower in people with Alzheimer’s. Three of these drugs are available: donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine, and galantamine. Another medication, memantine, was developed for people in the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease.
Sometimes, antidepressant medication is used to treat depression that may be linked to Alzheimer’s. Certain people might benefit from medications that treat depression.
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