A poll from 2012 indicated that Alzheimer’s disease is the #1 most feared disease (ranked higher than cancer). The thought of losing your personality, memories and ability to think is truly frightening. So what can be done about this nightmare? I have a few thoughts on this that might help you come up with a plan.
First, lets discuss who is most likely to get Alzheimer’s. According to reports, 1 out of every 9 people over the age of 65 have some level of Alzheimer’s and 1 out of every 3 over the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s. The highest rate is among overweight men. Evidence shows that there is a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s if you have any of the following:
High Blood Pressure
There is also a higher risk if you have a family member who has had Alzheimer’s disease. We are learning so much about our genetic makeup and we now have the capability to find out what diseases we are more likely to develop. Not to bore you with all the details but there are a couple genetic issues that are associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. One of the genes that has been identified with having an increased risk of late onset Alzheimer’s (over age 65) is apolipoprotein E (APOE).
- APOE e2 — the least common — appears to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
- APOE e3 — the most common — doesn’t seem to affect the risk of Alzheimer’s.
- APOE e4 — a little more common — appears to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
So what that means is that if only one of your parents has passed on the APOE e4 gene then you are at a higher risk. If your mom and dad both passed on the APOE e4 gene you are at an even higher risk of late onset Alzheimer’s.
What about early onset Alzheimer’s (ages 30-60)? The genes involved here are:
- Amyloid precursor protein (APP)
- Presenilin 1 (PSEN1)
- Presenilin 2 (PSEN2
Excessive amounts of a toxic protein fragment called amyloid-beta peptide are produced from mutations of these genes. This peptide can form clumps called amyloid plaques, which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. This toxic amyloid beta peptide and amyloid plaques may lead to the death of nerve cells and the progressive signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. It is believed that there are other genetic factors with Alzheimer’s that are yet to be discovered.
I know that it is not cheap right now but over the next several years we may see a drop in price for genetic testing and maybe insurance coverage. When this happens we can then analyze your genes for these specific markers.
Do the prescription medications for Alzheimer’s help to prevent the disease? No, these medications are marketed by the drug manufacturers to help with the symptoms and “possibly delay the progression” of Alzheimer’s. These medications do not cure Alzheimer’s.
What can you do to prevent Alzheimer’s?
- Eat a healthy diet (I recommend the Mediterranean-DASH diet “MIND diet”)
- Exercise regularly (I recommend at least 3 times a week)
- Supplement with the following:
Vitamin B12 – 5000 iu/day (check your level)
Vitamin B Complex – one a day
Vitamin D3 – 5000 iu/day (check your level) maintain a level between 50 and 80
ProOmega – 2000 mg a day
CoEnzyme Q-10 – 100 mg a day (a must if you take a statin or a beta-blocker)
Phosphatidylserine – 100 mg a day
This list is not all inclusive and I recommend that you let me help you formulate a specific plan. What do you take for Alzheimer’s prevention? Post in the comments section below.