Recently, there has been quite a bit of news circulating out of the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Paris. First, there may be seven risk factors people can control to keep them from getting Alzheimers. These seven factors are diabetes, midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, smoking, depression, lack of mental stimulation, and physical inactivity. The study out of the University of California San Francisco suggests a 25% reduction in these risk factors could prevent up to 3 million Alzheimer’s cases around the world and up to half a million in the United States alone.
Futhermore, there is additional evidence linking head trauma and dementia. Researchers at the conference reported that veterans with a brain injury- anything from a concussion to a severe head wound- were more than twice as likely to develop dementia, compared to those with no brain injury. In a study of retired football players, 35% of former NFL players had signs of dementia compared to only 13% in the general population.
In addition, there is a small study involving an eye test. Blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye) are photographed. Researchers compared retinal photos of 110 healthy people, 13 people with Alzheimer’s, and 13 others with a form of “pre-Alzheimer’s” known as mild cognitive impairment. The widths of certain blood vessels in those with Alzheimer’s differed from vessels in the others. Although the study is very preliminary, further research is planned on larger groups to see how accurate the test might be at helping to make a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
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