I recently 'attended' a webinar presented by Lynne Shinto N.D. M.P.H on The Vascular Components of Alzheimer's Disease. Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia that sees changes in behaviour, daily activities, and memory, that progressively worsen over time.
My grandma was diagnosed with dementia several years ago - I spend each Friday afternoon with her and it is a (sometimes very challenging) highlight of my week.
I am always interested in learning more about dementia/AD and here is a summary of some of the interesting info that the teacher shared during the webinar:
1. Prior to age 65, systolic blood pressure lower than 150 reduces the risk of developing AD. Interestingly though, after age 65, hypotension/low blood pressure can actually contribute to the development of AD, so having a slightly elevated systolic blood pressure (135 -150) actually reduces AD risk. The 2013 Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure recommends adults over the age of 60 should aim for a blood pressure measurement of 150/90 and adults age 60 and below should aim for 140/90 at the highest.
2. Vitamin B12 deficiency needs to be ruled out when people are showing signs of AD. It is recommended to treat with B12 supplementation when the B12 blood level is lower than 400 pg/ml.
3. On MRI, people with AD have significantly smaller brains than people without AD (the hippocampus and temporal lobes are especially impacted). A study done with 120 AD free seniors who participated in a moderate intensity walking group (versus the control group who performed only stretching) over 1 year were found to have increased brain size and improved cognitive scores over their baseline testing.
4. A study by Dyksen et al. published in JAMA in 2014 found that participants with mild to moderate AD who were being treated with Alzheimer's prescription medications that added 2000 IU of vitamin E to their daily routine found a 6.2 month delay in activities of daily life decline and an approximately 2 hour less requirement of caregiver time per day in comparison to placebo.
5. A study by Valis-Pedret et al. published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2015 found participants following a Mediterranean based diet supplemented with additional olive oil or additional nuts were shown to have improved cognitive function over 4 years.
6. A study by Bowman et al. published in Neurology in 2012 found that higher blood levels of vitamins B, C, D, E were associated with better global cognitive function and higher total brain volume, higher blood levels of trans fats were associated with worse global cognitive function and lower total brain volume, and higher blood levels of omega 3 fatty acids were associated with better executive function.
This helpful information highlighted during the webinar provides excellent practical suggestions we can all work on to support our overall cognitive health.