Dear Dr. Mirkin,
What can prevent dementia in older people as they start to forget things?
Answer: Older people suffering from mild memory and cognition problems are far less likely to progress to Alzheimer’s disease if they are treated to protect their blood vessels: for high blood pressure, high triglycerides and cholesterol, low good HDL cholesterol, abdominal obesity, diabetes and heart disease (Neurology, published online April 13, 2011).
In 2004, researchers started to follow 837 people, ages 55 and older, who were forgetful but did not have dementia. More than half had the signs of blood vessel disease listed above. After five years, 35 percent developed Alzheimer’s, and the majority were from the group who had signs of blood vessel disease.
Those with blood vessel disease who received treatment were 40 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Slightly less than ten percent of people with cognitive impairment progress to Alzheimer’s each year.
All people, whether they are forgetful or not, should prevent blood vessel disease by getting their bad LDL cholesterol below 100, the diabetic test HBA1C below 5.7, blood pressure below 120/80, triglycerides below 120, and a pinch of their abdominal flesh smaller than one inch.
They should exercise every day, lose weight if overweight, avoid refined carbohydrates, cut out sugared drinks, limit red meat, and eat plenty of fruits, vegetable, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts. They should also try to get their vitamin D3 level above 75 nmol/L.
A practicing physician for more than 40 years and a radio talk show host for 25, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is one of a very few doctors board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology.
Dr. Mirkin's latest book is The Healthy Heart Miracle, published by HarperCollins. His daily short features on fitness have been heard on CBS Radio News stations since the 1970's.
He has written 16 books including The Sportsmedicine Book, the best-selling book on the subject that has been translated into many languages. Dr. Mirkin did his residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital and over the years he has served as a Teaching Fellow at Johns Hopkins Medical School, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, and Associate Clinical Professor in Pediatrics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Read more at www.drmirkin.com.
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