Dementia: Can we Reverse the Pandemic?

Dementia is an umbrella term describing the symptoms of neurodegeneration including: memory, cognitive ability and communication. There are over 200 types of dementia but the most common are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, mixed dementia, frontotemporal dementia and dementia with lewy bodies.

Whilst all of these affect different parts of the brain they follow the same destructive path of killing the brain’s cells. For example, Alzheimer’s abnormal proteins surround the cells cutting off the chemical connections.

Due to its many forms, dementia can be difficult to diagnose and often misdiagnosed, this leads to it being irreversible by the time the patient is diagnosed. This has led to a huge increase in dementia cases over the past 20 years. However, if awareness of symptoms were better known, the chances of delaying the progression significantly increases.

Early stages of dementia include forgetting things you would ordinarily know, like the route to work or the name of a friend, increased anxiety or depression, struggling to remember recent events, changes in concentration and struggling to find the words you want to say.

Doing activities that keep your mind happy and active have shown to have a positive effect on slowing the progression of the disease; learning new languages and doing activities you enjoy like painting and gardening maintain the brain’s cognitive function and reduce the risk factors.

Regular exercise and a balanced diet can reduce the fatty deposits that would build up in arteries, narrowing them and increasing the chances of Dementia. Even those who are genetically predisposed to dementia can limit its symptoms by reducing the risk factors.

However, reporting any concerns to your GP is the best form of prevention as early diagnosis will make the treatment much more effective and will help the patient lead a normal life.

References

Milad Rouf Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.

www.alzheimers.org.uk