You know that regular exercise can protect your heart against cardiovascular disease and avoiding smoking can help reduce your risk of developing lung cancer, but are there steps you can take to prevent Alzheimer’s disease? There are multiple studies about ways to reduce your risk of developing this condition, but scientists are still searching for definitive proof of what works. While none of the following are set in stone, consider adopting these three behaviors, as they are essential to a healthy lifestyle and could help boost your brain’s health.
1. Physical Activity
Exercise sends oxygen-rich blood throughout the body and into the brain. Physical activity may even prevent the formation of plaques and tangles, structures in the brain associated with cognitive impairment. Some researchers have found that physical activity reduced study participants’ risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease while other studies have shown no effect. Despite inconclusive results, exercise is still part of a healthy lifestyle. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends the average adult get at least 2.5 hours of physical activity a week. Speak with your doctor to see which exercises they recommend for you.
2. Cognitive Exercises
Any activity that gets you thinking can potentially reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Some researchers suggest that both formal and informal cognitive training, such as playing games, socializing, reading, and crafting, can have positive effects on your neurological health. The ACTIVE study showed that senior subjects who participated in five to six weeks of cognitive training had an easier time performing daily tasks than people who did not. Consider adding this type of activity to your weekly schedule to keep your mind healthy and active.
3. Blood Pressure Control
When your blood pressure gets too high, blood can’t travel throughout the body and to your brain as easily. This can have adverse effects on your health since the brain needs plenty of oxygenated blood to function normally. A clinical trial called SPRINT-MIND showed that people who actively controlled their blood pressure had a lower risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) but no change to their risk of developing Alzheimer’s. However, maintaining a healthy blood pressure can improve other areas of your health, so speak with your doctor about steps you can take to manage yours.
If you begin to notice any symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, including memory loss or difficulty comprehending time or your current location, schedule an appointment with a St. Luke’s Health neurologist. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive impairment, you can manage symptoms and slow disease progression with the help of our advanced care team.
National Institute on Aging | Does intensive blood pressure control reduce dementia?
National Institute on Aging | Preventing Alzheimer's Disease: What Do We Know?
NCBI | Association Between Mentally Stimulating Activities in Late Life and the Outcome of Incident Mild Cognitive Impairment, With an Analysis of the APOE ε4 Genotype.
Alzheimer's Association | Prevention
Jama Network | Physical Activity, Diet, and Risk of Alzheimer Disease
Jama Network | Participation in Cognitively Stimulating Activities and Risk of Incident Alzheimer Disease