The fear of memory loss is a universal concern that deeply impacts our fundamental human need for connection with the world and the people around us. It is heart wrenching to watch dementia afflict those we love.
Anyone who is not familiar with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementia should familairise themselves with these less commonly known facts about the condition.
It is a women’s disease
In the United States, women make up the majority of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women, according to psychiatrist and Alzheimer’s disease expert Dr. Anne Koplin who wrote on the issue for SSM Health News.
In coroboration of this study, a 2019 study published online by PubMed Central states that prevalence of dementia is “significantly higher in women” in Nigeria.
Research however suggests that women who took hormone replacement therapy after menopause had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. These studies hinted at a potential role for estrogen in maintaining cognitive function.
Pseudo-dementia is real
Sometimes people can have memory problem that look like dementia, but they are actually caused by other conditions that can be treated. This is called pseudo-dementia. Reversible causes of memory loss must be explored before making the diagnosis of dementia. Most commonly pseudo-dementia refers to the cognitive problems seen in depression. It can look identical to dementia.
Hypothyroidism, vitamin B12 deficiency, sleep apnea, alcohol-related dementia and medication side effects are all reversible causes of dementia and they must be ruled out. An accurate diagnosis will save the patient from unnecessary testing and provide an option for treatment.
a 2019 study published online by PubMed Central states that prevalence of dementia is ‘significantly higher in women’ in Nigeria
Lack of sleep in middle age may increase dementia risk
People who sleep six hours or less per night in their 50s and 60s are more likely to develop dementia. During sleep, the brain clears out waste products, including a protein called amyloid beta, which forms plaques in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
Adequate sleep facilitates the removal of these harmful substances, reducing the risk of accumulation. Sufficient sleep is essential for maintaining optimal brain health. Sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality can impair brain function, increase inflammation, and contribute to the development of neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
It does not always “run in the family”
Although people who have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease have an increased risk to develop the condition, the risk is generally less than most people assume. Only about 1% of people actually have a gene that causes Alzheimer’s disease and in these families, the symptoms usually begin early, in the age range of 40s to 50s.
Hypothyroidism, vitamin B12 deficiency, sleep apnea, alcohol-related dementia and medication side effects are all causes of dementia
Vitamin D may have an impact on brain health
Often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, it plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health and supporting the immune system. Vitamin D is primarily synthesized in the skin from exposure to the sun, but it can also be obtained through dietary sources such as fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and supplements.
Vitamin D may play a role in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, processes implicated in the development of dementia. Another theory suggests that vitamin D may promote the clearance of amyloid-beta plaques, which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease . Maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels may have a positive impact on brain health and potentially reduce the risk of dementia.
Sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality can impair brain function, increase inflammation, and contribute to the development of neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease
Research efforts are actively underway to investigate the underlying causes and potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. New insights into this complex condition are gradually emerging, instilling optimism that answers will be found in the near future.
Sourced from: SSM Health News