Page 21 - Florida Sentinel 12-11-20
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Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. About a third of people 85 and older show signs of the disease. The genes you get from your parents play a part at this age, but so do things like diet, exercise, your so-
cial life, and other illnesses. Dementia isn't a normal part of getting older.
Heart Disease
It could lead to a heart attack or stroke, which makes dementia more likely. Heart disease is usually caused by plaque buildup in arteries around your heart (atheroscle- rosis). That can slow blood flow to your brain and put you at risk for stroke, making it harder to think well or remem- ber things. And many things that cause heart disease -- to- bacco use, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol -- also can lead to dementia.
High Blood Pressure
Even if you had no other health problems, having high blood pressure makes you more likely to get vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. That's probably because high blood pressure
harms the blood vessels in your brain. It also can lead to other conditions that cause dementia, like stroke. Managing your blood pressure with diet and exercise -- and medica- tion, if needed -- may slow or prevent this from happening.
Head Injury
One mild traumatic brain injury may not make you more likely to get dementia later in life. But more se- vere or repeated hits or falls could double or quadruple your chances, even years after the first time. Get to
the hospital if you’ve hit your head and you pass out or have blurry vision, or feel dizzy, confused, nauseated, or become over-sensitive to light.
Having a lot of extra weight in middle age could put you at risk. It also drives up your odds of getting heart disease and diabetes, which are linked to dementia. You can check your BMI (body mass index) online
to see if it’s in the “obese” range. Your doctor can help you set a weight loss goal that’s right for you. A healthy diet and regular exercise could help you turn things around.
If you've ever had this com- mon condition, you may be more likely to get dementia. Scientists aren’t yet sure that it’s a cause. It may simply be an early symptom
or a sign of other causes like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. Talk to your doctor or a therapist if you feel down for more than 2 weeks, and right away if you think of harm- ing yourself. Therapy and medication can help treat de- pression.
         High Cholesterol
High levels, especially in middle age, are linked to obe- sity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. All of these boost your risk of dementia, but it’s not yet clear if cholesterol by itself adds to the problem. Some research shows that high cholesterol in midlife could be a risk for Alzheimer’s dis- ease later in life, but the exact link isn’t clear.
Doctors aren’t sure exactly why people with diabetes get de- mentia more often. But they do know that people with diabetes are more likely to have damaged blood vessels. This can slow or
block blood flow to the brain, and damage areas of the brain, leading to what’s called vascular dementia. Some people may be able to slow brain decline if they keep diabetes under control with medicine, exercise, and a healthy diet.

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