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New hope for Alzheimer’s disease

Healthy lifestyle may reduce risk for developing Alzheimer’s

Adopting multiple healthy lifestyle habits can help when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research.

“2019 was a banner year for research offering new hopes for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) prevention and possibly new hopes for future treatment for AD,” says Curtis P. Schreiber, M.D., medical director of Missouri Memory Center at Citizens Memorial Hospital in Bolivar.

Dr. Schreiber says that many people have concerns that they are at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. New research presented at the July 2019 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles revealed for the first time that lifestyle factors do matter and that addressing these items long before the onset memory loss can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the future.

Researchers evaluated more than 2,000 people and checked to see how five lifestyle factors would change the chances for developing AD. The results found that the risk of AD was 60% lower for those who adopted four or five of the lifestyle factors, when compared with those who did not follow any or only one of the lifestyle factors.

Researchers found that those who adopted just one more lifestyle factor, whatever their current number of factors, their risk of Alzheimer’s dementia decreased by an additional 22%.

The five lifestyle factors studied included a healthy diet, moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 150 minutes a week, not smoking, light to moderate alcohol intake, and engaging in cognitively stimulating activities

Dr. Schreiber says that this study is great news for people who are interested in reducing their risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

“This study gives scientific proof that these simple, common sense lifestyle choices can make a difference. All of us can benefit, not only for our brain health, but also for the rest of our body by working on these five lifestyle factors,” says Dr. Schreiber.

While the five lifestyle factors may help prevent AD, the ultimate goal of research would be to find a treatment to treat the disease more effectively for people who already have Alzheimer’s.

“Scientists call this ‘disease modifying’ treatment. Although there are medications currently available to help treat the symptoms of AD, there are currently no available disease modifying treatments,” says Dr. Schreiber.

In October 2019, a new possible treatment for AD was submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for possible approval to treat AD. This drug, aducanumab, had its clinical trials halted earlier in 2019 due to an early analysis indicating a low chance of the drug working. However, when longer duration effects were later reviewed, much more encouraging findings were seen.

“Although it remains to be seen if all the scientific information is sufficient for the FDA to approve this drug, it is exciting in the field of AD treatment to see this development,” says Dr. Schreiber.

Missouri Memory Center at CMH in Bolivar participates in Alzheimer’s disease research.

“Here at the Missouri Memory Center we offer large investigational clinical studies for interested patients to participate in AD research in Bolivar,” adds Dr. Schreiber.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease research in Bolivar, contact the Missouri Memory Center at 417-327-3530 and ask to speak to the clinical research nurse coordinator.

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