Alzheimer’s Disease: hindering the onset of the condition

Many thoughts cross our mind when we think about ageing. When it comes to mental health, we are increasingly aware of the impact of Alzheimer’s disease for the patient and for his/hers carers. Uncertainty makes us wonder what causes the disease and how can we prevent it.

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Understanding Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults, as explained by the National Institute of Agingfrom U.S.A.. This is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks like driving a car, cooking a meal, or paying bills. Usually people who suffer from the condition ask the same questions over and over, get lost easily, lose things or put them in odd places, and find simple things utterly confusing. In some cases, they become worried, angry, or violent, as the disease progresses.

According to the Alzheimer’s Associationfrom U.S.A., individuals with Alzheimer’s dementia experience multiple symptoms that change over a period of years, and reflect the degree of damage to neurons in different parts of the brain. Early symptoms include difficulty remembering recent conversations, names or events, apathy and depression. Later symptoms vary between impaired communication; disorientation, confusion; poor judgment; behavioural changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking. Alzheimer’s disease is ultimately fatal.

Is prevention in our hands?

 Genetic is a crucial risk factor for late-onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and until now, no lifestyle factor has shown to reduce the risk of developing the condition; however, according to the Mayo Clinicwebsite, some changes in our behaviour can help.

Evidence suggests that the same factors that place us at risk of heart disease may also increase our chances of developing Alzheimer’s.

Cigarette

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke.

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Uncontrolledvascular risk factors, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Having diabetes can be also considered a risk.

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Refraining from physical activity.

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Not pursuing a heart-healthy diet containing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, chicken, nuts and vegetables, while limiting saturated fats, red meat and sugar.

 

Additional studies also pointed out that having a mentally stimulating job, engaging in mentally stimulating activities and exercising the brain throughout life may have a positive influence on the disease’s onset. Remaining socially active may too support your brain’s health and possibly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

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Formal education and thinking (cognitive) skills, such as memory.

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Mentally stimulating job.

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Socially engagement.

Ask for professional help

If you wish to undergo diagnosis or treatment or if you are a carer of someone with Alzheimer’s disease, you may contact us and get more information about our services. Finding an expert in the field may not be an easy task, especially if we are in foreign country and facing a new language. Medical Port provides the access to the most appropriate specialists, arranging English-speaking staff able to understand and answer your needs and concerns.

 

 

Stroke: stay safe and act fast

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15 million people worldwide are affected by stroke each year. Of these, 5 million die and a similar number become permanently disabled. A stroke can seriously damage the brain, reducing functionality and quality of life permanently, so it is important to understand and learn how to avoid it.

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How a stroke develops in our bodies

As explained by the WHO, our brain can only function if adequately irrigated by blood. Two large blood vessels, running along either side of the neck, carry blood from the heart to the brain. Arriving at the brain, these in turn narrow gradually until becoming tiny tubular passages supplying oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the brain. When this flow of blood is significantly reduced or even interrupted; the brain loses its ability to nourish and function, becoming seriously damaged.

Effects of this condition depend on which part of the brain is affected and how severe the damage is. A stroke may affect just one part of the body, such as the face, an arm or a leg. In other situations, it can completely paralyse important bodily functions.

When it develops into it’s most dangerous outcome, it is called a major stroke. A very severe stroke can cause sudden death. To realize if someone is having a stroke, it is important to observe the symptoms. The most common one is a sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms may occur, including sudden onset, numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; confusion; difficulty speaking or understanding speech; difficulty seeing with one or both eyes; difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; severe headache with no known cause; fainting or unconsciousness.

Symptoms of a minor stroke may be similar to those of major strokes, but milder and of shorter duration, even less than an hour. In such cases, the person recovers without treatment.

ACT FAST

Strokes can strike suddenly and be fatal if assistance is immediate. When detecting signs of stroke it is urgent to call a doctor or ambulance. A stroke can progress fast so it is imperative to take action even if the symptoms don’t appear severe. Think “FAST” and pay attention to the following symptoms:

Barry Langdon-Lassagne CC 3.0                                 Face.Ask the person to smile. Observe the lips are uneven.

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                              Arms.Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one arm drifting downwards or unable to rise?

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                             Speech.Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Notice if the speech is slurred or strange.

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                           Time.If you detect any of these signs, call an ambulance immediately.

 

Stay safe

Pursuing healthy life habits daily can save lives, especially if we stick to the following advice:

CigaretteIf you’re a smoker, quit. The risk of stroke drops immediately after a person quit using tobacco products, and can be reduced by as much as half after 1 year. Every way of smoking is harmful, being it in cigarettes, cigars, pipe smoking, tobacco chewing, and even second-hand tobacco smoke.

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Adopt a healthy diet. Eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and two servings of oily fish a week. Avoid unhealthy meals with too much food, calories, fat, sugar or salt.

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Limit alcohol. We may not entirely quit alcohol, but we it is important to learn how to be moderate: a man should not drink more than two alcoholic drinks a day and women not more than one.

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Practise physical activity. Exercise lowers the risk of stroke for many reasons.. It helps the body to burn sugars and fats and to keep a proper weight; lowers blood pressure; increases oxygen levels in your body; reduces stress; strengthens the heart muscle and bones, and improves blood circulation and muscle tone.

Check yourself regularly

Prevention includes regularly visiting our physician and being aware of our overall health. If you are living in Portugal and need medical assistance with English-speaking staff, you may contact us and we will support you with local arrangements according to your condition and availability.

 

 

Mediterranean diet associated with Alzheimer’s disease prevention

The Mediterranean diet has been known for its numerous health benefits, which include: low cholesterol, low blood pressure and a healthy heart and it is considered a generally good diet for those who like to live a healthy life.

A group of researchers recently found that following a Mediterranean Diet is associated with a larger brain volume in the elderly. One of the drivers of Alzheimer’s disease is low brain volume in older ages. Researchers reached the following conclusion:

“Among older adults, Mediterranean Diet adherence was associated with less brain atrophy, with an effect similar to 5 years of aging. Higher fish and lower meat intake might be the 2 key food elements that contribute to the benefits of Mediterranean Diet on brain structure.”

Previous published studies had already demonstrated that following a Mediterranean Diet was associated with a reduction in risk for Alzheimer’s disease. This study is now showing that the more people “(…) adhere to the Mediterranean diet, the more protection you get for your brain” according to the lead research in the study publish in the Journal of Neurology.

Medical Port is committed to work with partners that do outstanding work in health areas that concern the population.

In Portugal, a pioneer in Neurology is Joaquim Ferreira, PhD, the founder of CNS Campus. Neurology diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease are areas were Professor Joaquim Ferreira’s job is well known all over Europe. CNS Campus is located near Lisbon in the countryside near the beach. In addition to consultations, CNS offers rehabilitation programs (those can be long term or short term format) that help patients and their caregivers to cope with the disease and have a better life quality. If you would like to learn more about CNS Campus and Professor Joaquim Ferreira, click here.