2014 World Alzheimer’s Report

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) is a worldwide organization – of which the Alzheimer’s Association is a founding member – that supports the future of all peoples through research of dementia diseases. On September 17 ADI released its 2014 World Alzheimer Report: Dementia and Risk Reduction. The report was a new analysis of preexisting material related to lifestyle factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. ADI hoped to bring new understanding to the disease by looking at the research in a new lens. The article reported on four categorical factors. Here’s a summary of the key findings:

Development and early risk factors

During maturation and brain development, early life experiences were said to be slightly correlated with increasing risk of Alzheimer’s. Other weak correlations found of development and early risk factors were early education levels, parental death at early life, and leg and head circumference.

Reviewing these factors, ADI stated that evidence remains tentative because of the lack of true long-term life course studies. While improving a child’s health from conception is worth the effort, whether this affects dementia prevention is still unknown.

Psychological factors

Depression and sleep-disorders were the main focus of dementia connected studies that were analyzed for this report. Evidence procured showed a positive correlation between depression and dementia. Nevertheless, the ADI questions whether depression is a precursor symptom of dementia or a cause of dementia.

Psychological factors within the studies are already public health concerns costing healthcare organizations a pretty penny each year. It is reasonable to say that health organizations should help to relieve these factors. But what about dementia? ADI is calling for more research before any health statement or efforts are made.

Lifestyle factors

Common knowledge will tell you choices such as diet and exercise influence a healthful life. When these and other lifestyle choices were included in the trial, no substantial results were concluded. The single lifestyle choice exhibiting significant correlation in dementia preclusion was cessation of smoking. Other trials, such as adherence to the Mediterranean diet appeared to have promising affects on prevention. The trial was held for a small period of time, allowing it to last long enough to show potential, yet no conclusive results. The studies should be held longer in order to receive detail on preventing Alzheimer’s disease or any dementia through these lifestyle choices.

Cardiovascular risk factors

The strongest epidemiological findings were connected with cardiovascular risk factors. Hypertension in midlife and diabetes in late life were reported to increase risk for all types of dementias. ADI included obesity in the research, but found no strong connection. Besides this fact, obesity has a strong relationship with hypertension and diabetes. ADI suggested obesity, though not correlated as being a risk factor, be included in primary prevention programs.

Conclusion

ADI’s report brought additional insight into the efforts of preventing and curing the disease of Alzheimer’s and all types of dementia, but there is still a long ways to go. ADI concluded in the report that there is not enough evidence to claim that lifestyle changes will prevent Alzheimer’s or dementia on an individual basis. More research is needed to give affirmative answers towards risk reduction. The Alzheimer’s Association continues to fund studies exploring the influence of many factors in development of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Helpful information related to this story:
Read the full 2014 World Alzheimer’s Report
Visit Alzheimer’s Disease International
Alzheimer’s Association Research Center