Friday, 5 August 2011

Type 2 Diabetes - Preventing Alzheimer's Disease

A report published in Dementia, Geriatrics and Cognitive Disorders in May 2011 confirms earlier research that preventing and treating Type 2 diabetes is likely to help to prevent Alzheimer' disease. It's no secret people with Type 2 diabetes have a higher increased risk of developing this irreversible, progressive brain disease by as much as 65 per cent.

Researchers at Columbia University looked at 1,488 people aged 65 and over without any evidence of a brain disease at the start of the study. Dementia and late-onset Alzheimer's disease were diagnosed as the study progressed. Seventeen per cent of the study participants were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

One hundred and sixty-one cases of dementia, and 140 cases of late-onset Alzheimer's disease were detected.

The volunteers who previously had received a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes were 70 per cent more likely to develop dementia than those without Type 2 diabetes, and were 60 per cent more likely to develop late-onset Alzheimer's disease. The researchers then suggested damage to blood vessels in the brain could be responsible for the association.

People with Type 2 diabetes frequently have inflamed blood vessels and too much cholesterol and fat in their blood. That can lead to blood vessel damage as cholesterol plaques form on the walls of their vessels. Plaque breaking off can form emboli; solid bodies traveling through the body that can become stuck in small blood vessels and block blood flow to organs, including the brain.

Investigators at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Organization in Perth, Australia, examined blood vessels in the eye as a possible indicator of Alzheimer's disease. The retina, the rear part of the eye, is full of blood vessels that are close to the brain and in similar condition to the brain's vessels. According to a presentation made at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2011, photographs of the retinas of:

    * 13 people who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's,
    * 13 people with slight brain problems, and
    * 110 healthy people

were examined.

The people with Alzheimer's disease had smaller veins than healthy people, and those people with slight brain problems had more plaque than did the healthy controls.

Researchers therefore concluded that changes in the blood vessels in the eye were associated with brain difficulties and Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease afflicts 4.5 million people, according to the 9th International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders. The number is expected to go up as populations in the developed world age. The Alzheimer's Association recommends the following to reduce your chances of acquiring the disorder:

    * normalize weight and eat a healthful diet,
    * reduce both your cholesterol levels and blood pressure if they are high, and
    * engage in complex leisure activities with physical, mental and social interactions.

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