According to the American Alzheimer’s Association (Alzheimer’s Association), Alzheimer’s disease affects women more than men. A woman’s risk develop the disease at age 65 it is 1 in 6, almost double her risk of developing breast cancer. Men, on the other hand, have a 1 in 11 risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the same age group.
A survey published in 2020 by the academic journal “Neurology”, of the American Academy of Neurology, pointed out that middle-aged women are more likely to have changes in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease, although there is no clear change in reasoning and memory.
Imaging tests suggest that the correlation is related to the post-menopausal period, when the hormone estrogen stops being produced.
Our brain, like our body, needs stimulation throughout life to stay active.
Habits such as practicing reading, learning something new like playing a musical instrument, playing strategy games like chess, sudoku and crosswords are stimulating intellectual activities that can be inserted into an individual’s routine to stimulate the formation of cognitive reserve.
In addition, the practice of physical exercises and sports shows benefits in cognitive functions such as memory, executive, attention and global cognition.
According to gerontologist Thais Bento Lima-Silva, the practice of intense physical activities can also improve cerebral irrigation, blood circulation and oxygenation, prevent the onset of other comorbidities and contribute to well-being in the release of energy. hormones and neurotransmitters that help prevent changes in mood.
“It has been found by scientific studies that the practice of physical exercises increases both the expression of genes and the protein of the cell growth factor, called BDNF, a substance which promotes the formation of new neurons and the strengthening of neural connections,” said the specialist. .
“The results of the prospective study by Larson et al. showed that regular physical exercise, at least three times a week, was associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia, being a powerful protective factor against cognitive decline,” adds Thais. Bento. .
So how do you reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease? Also according to the gerontologist, currently researchers have insisted on preventive activities, considering that there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
“Exercising the brain with activities that stimulate cognitive functions are alternatives to keep the mind active and stimulated, providing better brain health and preventing the onset of cognitive decline, and even preventing or delaying the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Thais Bento Lima.
She points out that the risk factors for the development of dementia can be reduced or prevented if certain habits and behaviors are adopted, not only by the individual, but by society as a form of public health policies and the promotion of aging. in good health.
“It is understood that a good quality of life is promoted with a process of co-responsibility: the role of public power and the performance of the individual”.
The World Health Organization’s prevention guidelines have been published in a document called Global Dementia Action Plan – Strategies 2017 to 2025.
The protective factors targeted at individuals are:
- Treat hypertension and aim for systolic blood pressure SBP <130 MM Hg in middle age;
- Wear hearing aids for hearing loss;
- Avoid or discourage the consumption of 21 or more units of alcohol per week;
- Preventing head injuries when a person may be at high risk;
- Quitting smoking is beneficial regardless of age;
- Reduce obesity and the associated condition of diabetes through the availability of healthy foods and an environment conducive to movement;
- Maintain physical activity in middle age and old age.
The main factors preventing the development of dementia at the public policy level are:
- Prioritize early childhood education for all, everywhere;
- Implement social public health policies that reduce the risk of hypertension in the general population;
- Develop policies that encourage lifelong social, cognitive and physical activity;
- Examine the risks of lifetime hearing loss to reduce the risk of exposure;
- Reduce the risk of head injury in relevant environments, including work and transport;
- National and international policies aimed at reducing the exposure of the population to air pollution;
- Reduce exposure to tobacco for children and adults and encourage quitting.
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