Sleep better and adequately to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine, Social Health Community Comments Off

A healthy lifestyle adopted early in life builds up cognitive reserve for later life

New Delhi, 26th March 2019: Adequate sleep clears the accumulation of amyloid beta proteins that are known to cause Alzheimer’s disease (AD), finds a new study. The results of this study are published in the Journal of Neurophysiology. A better understanding of this connection may lead to potential diagnostics and therapeutics for AD and other neurodegenerative diseases and dementia. Sleep helps the body eliminate excess amyloid beta before too much accumulates in the brain.

Older people who get less deep sleep have higher levels of the brain protein tau, a sign of cognitive decline and AD, according to another study. Up to two decades before the characteristic symptoms of memory loss and confusion appear, amyloid beta protein begins to collect into plaques in the brain. Tangles of tau appear later, followed by atrophy of key brain areas. Only then do people start showing unmistakable signs of cognitive decline.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “AD is a progressive condition and about 5% to 6% of people over the age of 65 are affected by it. It is a neurogenerative disease and the most common cause of dementia. India has the third largest number of people suffering from dementia making it a health crisis that must be addressed at the earliest. Memory impairment is the most frequent feature of AD and is usually its first manifestation. Deficits in other cognitive domains may appear with or after the development of memory impairment. Executive dysfunction and impaired visuospatial skills tend to be affected relatively early, while deficits in language function and behavioral symptoms often manifest later in the disease course.”

Early-onset AD is unusual and is familial in some but not all cases. The latter makes up less than 1% of cases (several hundred families around the world) and often follows an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Behavioral disturbances can profoundly affect patients with dementia as well as their families and caregivers. Cognitive rehabilitation can help patients in the early stages of dementia to maintain memory and higher cognitive function. It is imperative to diagnose the condition at the earliest and chart a proper care plan for such patients.”

Some tips from HCFI to lower Alzheimer’s risk

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Check your waistline.
  • Eat mindfully. Emphasize colorful, vitamin–packed vegetables and fruits; whole grains; fish, lean poultry, tofu, and beans and other legumes as protein sources plus healthy fats. Cut down on unnecessary calories from sweets, sodas, refined grains like white bread or white rice, unhealthy fats, fried and fast foods, and mindless snacking. Keep a close eye on portion sizes, too.
  • Exercise regularly. Aim for 2½ to 5 hours weekly of brisk walking (at 4 mph). Or try a vigorous exercise like jogging (at 6 mph) for half that time.
  • Keep an eye on important health numbers. In addition to watching your weight and waistline, keep a watch on your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar numbers.