High Blood Pressure And Dementia Risk
High blood pressure can cause blood clots in arteries, blocking blood flow to the brain. Stroke and the loss of brain cells may follow, and the brain could subsequently shrink.
People with high blood pressure in midlife are more likely to develop dementia later in life .
Heres what you can do:Make sure you know your blood pressure if you are 40, Livingston said. The Lancet team recommended aiming for a systolic blood pressure the pressure of the blood against artery walls as the heart beats of 130mm Hg or less in midlife, though Larson cautioned against reaching an overly low blood pressure.
Experts say managing stress and sleeping well, maintaining a stable weight and eating a healthy diet of less sugary foods, exercising regularly and refraining from smoking can help control blood pressure.
Read more about past research on the link between hypertension and dementia, and insights on how hypertensive treatment may reduce risk of cognitive decline
What Are The Early Signs Of Dementia
Symptoms of dementia are caused by changes in the brain changes that can begin years before early dementia signs present themselves. There are three general stages for Alzheimer’s mild , moderate , and severe . The speed at which a patient moves through these stages varies, but progression of the symptoms themselves follows a fairly standardized path.
The most common early dementia symptoms are forgetfulness and short-term memory loss. Patients may forget where they left something or have trouble recalling the details of a conversation, but long-term memory and the remembering of important dates or events is typically unaffected in early stages of dementia.
As the symptoms of Alzheimer’s progress, patients become increasingly confused about simple facts such as time or place and may have difficulty concentrating they can still complete regular tasks, but concentrating may take longer than usual.
Over time, symptoms of dementia may include frequently misplacing objects and an increased difficulty completing daily tasks. Patients are more likely to lose things and may have trouble retracing their steps to find them. This sometimes progresses to feelings of paranoia or accusations of theft when the patient cannot find something they unknowingly misplaced. Patients may also start to have trouble with daily tasks such as driving, cooking, or engaging in hobbies. Changes in vision and depth perception may also lead to increased clumsiness, falls, and other accidents.
Planning For The Future
Planning early makes it easier for someone with younger onset dementia to manage their financial, legal and medical affairs now and in the future.
If you have been diagnosed with younger onset dementia, it is important to make important decisions while you still can and while you are legally competent to sign any documents.
Things to think about include:
- your living arrangements into the future
- who can have access to your financial accounts
- having joint signatures on all financial accounts
- arranging when and how you will access your finances
- talking to a financial adviser
- sorting out superannuation, health and income insurance
- writing or updating your will
If you have been diagnosed with dementia, its important to nominate a trusted person to manage your affairs in the future. You can do this through an Enduring Power of Attorney .
A financial EPA enables a nominated person to look after your financial affairs if you become unable to do so. A medical EPA covers only medical decisions. The laws regarding EPAs vary between states and territories, so it’s important to seek legal advice before the agreement is completed, or if you are moving interstate.
Some states also have medical guardianship . This allows someone to choose a person to make medical decisions for them. For more information on guardianship and administrators, visit the My Aged Care website.
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Exercise For Cognitive Health
According to a number of studies, staying physically active and exercising regularly appears to reduce the risk of developing dementia. Researchers suggest exercise may trigger neurochemicals and the birth of neurons in the brain, improving mood, memory and learning. Its never too late to start exercising, experts say: People who improve their fitness over time are less likely to develop dementia.
Heres what you can do:Aspire to exercising 150 to 210 minutes of exercise a week, Larson said. It can be a lot for some people, he admitted. And 15 minutes of exercise three times a week can go a long way compared to staying inactive.
People tend not to realize that you dont have to be a marathon runner, Larson said. You just have to have regular physical activity. The greatest danger is not doing anything.
Read more about past research on the enduring benefits of exercise, and how it affects mood and cognition
Is Dementia A Mental Illness
Dementia is a mental health disorder as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association changed the name to Major Neurocognitive Disorder, which is a mouthful. The change was made in order to provide a clearer description of the problem. Whats most important to know is that dementias can involve changes to emotions, behaviors, perceptions, and movements in addition to memory and thinking.
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Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment
Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:
- Getting lost easily
- Noticeably poor performance at work
- Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
- Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
- Losing or misplacing important objects
- Difficulty concentrating
Patients often start to experience mild to moderate anxiety as these symptoms increasingly interfere with day to day life. Patients who may be in this stage of dementia are encouraged to have a clinical interview with a clinician for proper diagnosis.
Care For The Caregiver
Its easy to get lost in caregiving to the detriment of your own health and well-being. But you cant do your best for someone else if you dont take care of yourself.
Try to follow these self-care tips:
- Ask for help. Enlist family, friends, neighbors, or in-home healthcare providers.
- Take time off to do something for yourself. Socialize with your friends, schedule a massage, or plop on the sofa and stream a movie. Me time matters.
- Get regular exercise, even if its just a walk around the neighborhood.
- Maintain a healthy diet so your own health doesnt get derailed.
- Take a periodic time out for deep breathing and quiet meditation or soothing music.
- See your own doctor when you start to feel out of whack.
Caregiver burnout is all too real. It doesnt mean youve failed, it only means youre stretching yourself too thin. You might find it helpful to join a caregiver support group so you can interact with people who get it. If you start to feel emotionally or physically drained, consider speaking to a therapist.
Last medically reviewed on May 18, 2017
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Key Points About Early
Alzheimer disease commonly affects older people, but early-onset Alzheimer disease can affect people in their 30s or 40s.
It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life.
Stay healthy with a good diet and regular exercise.
Avoid alcohol and other substances that may affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Dementia is a collection of symptoms that can occur due to a variety of possible diseases. Dementia symptoms include impairments in thought, communication, and memory.
If you or your loved one is experiencing memory problems, dont immediately conclude that its dementia. A person needs to have at least two types of impairment that significantly interfere with everyday life to receive a dementia diagnosis.
In addition to difficulty remembering, the person may also experience impairments in:
Give Your Brain A Strong Heart
Your heart and brain are strongly connected. A healthy heart gives you a better chance for a healthy brain. 80% of people with Alzheimers disease also have heart disease. It is possible that the decline in the brain is not noticed unless it is paired with poor heart health. Evidence suggests that controlling high blood pressure could be key to better brain health.
Action Strategy: Have your blood pressure checked by a health professional regularly. If you have high blood pressure, discuss steps to improve your heart health. For example, take 5 deep breaths every hour to reduce stress. Make sure to exercise regularly and eat a heart-healthy diet.
What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is a diagnosis in itself. When it is noticeable clinically and identified early on, the formal diagnosis may be Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimers disease which may later develop into a diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimers disease.
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What Are The Risk Factors
We do not know fully the risk factors for developing young onset dementia. For many people, it just seems to develop. In a proportion of younger people, there is a familial link. Individuals who have at least one close relative with dementia have a two to four times greater risk of developing dementia before the age of 65, most commonly Alzheimers disease. The effect is stronger for those where the close relative had young onset dementia.
A second major risk factor is Downs syndrome. Up to three-quarters of people with Downs syndrome over the age of 50 will develop dementia . This problem is increasingly evident as people with Downs syndrome are living longer now.
In addition, people from black and minority ethnic groups under the age of 65 years seem more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
You’ve Been Experiencing Memory Changes
If you’re developing dementia, one of the first symptoms you might experience is a change in your ability to remember things, which might include forgetting what you just got up to do, or losing your train of thought mid-sentence.
“Signs of early-onset dementia include short-term memory changes, often described as an ‘inability to keep a thought in your head,'”Dr. Faisal Tawwab, MD, tells Bustle. So, if your words escape you, or you’ve suddenly become super forgetful, take note.
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Have An Nhs Health Check
An NHS Health Check is a free check-up of your overall health for people aged 40 to 74 who do not have heart disease, diabetes or kidney disease, and have not had a stroke. It’s offered every 5 years.
The NHS Health Check can help find early signs and tell you if you’re at higher risk of certain health problems that can also increase your risk of dementia. These include:
- heart disease
- kidney disease
If you’re over age 65, you’ll be told the signs and symptoms of dementia to look out for. You’ll also be given advice on how to lower your risk of dementia.
If you have not been invited for an NHS Health Check, ask your GP surgery.
Your Behaviors & Moods Have Changed
While it’s totally normal to experience mood changes throughout the day, a major shift in your personality can be a sign of early-onset dementia. And this is something you may pick up on, or it may be pointed out by a friend.
As Dr. Tawwab says, “A significant shift in personality, like shy to outgoing, can represent a decrease in awareness of inhibitions,” which can be a sign of dementia-related changes in the brain. Usually, this is due to the loss of neurons, and the type of behavioral change involved can depend on the part of the brain affected.
When the frontal lobe is impacted, for example, a person might experience changes in their ability to focus or pay attention, since that’s the area responsible for those actions.
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The Effects Of Being Diagnosed At A Young Age
The personal and social consequences of young onset dementia can be much different than those experienced by people diagnosed with dementia later in life.
People living with young onset dementia are often still working at the time of diagnosis, are physically fit, and may have dependent children or parents at home. They may have major financial commitments, like a mortgage or student loan, that they are looking to pay off.
The diagnosis of dementia, and the changes it will bring, can only increase the stress of handling these responsibilities. With dementia now in the mix, it’s natural for a younger person just diagnosed with dementia to think, “What’s next!?” and worry about how they can meet handling their responsibilities.
You Can’t Remember That Restaurant’s Name
If you constantly forget what you had for breakfast, or can’t recall the name of that restaurant you just went to, consider it a red flag. “The most common sign is memory problems that interfere with your daily life,” Dr. Fillit says. “You may have trouble remembering familiar names or places on a regular basis.”
It may not seem like a big deal. But if you find yourself struggling to remember details like these, or if this has become a frustrating problem, point it out to a doctor so they can monitor the situation.
Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia
Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.
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It’s because of this that many people, McArdle says are wrongly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
She said: “Providing patients with the correct diagnosis is especially important, as certain drugs, such as anti-psychotics, can be harmful to people with dementia with Lewy bodies.”
Evidence had previously shown that signs of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s could be seen in someone’s gait.
In her study, McArdle looked at different ways people with the two conditions walked.
This included the speed, how their steps change as they walk and the length of the step.
As part of her study, people walked across a mat with thousands of sensors inside, which created an electronic footprint.
From the footprint she could find out more about the walking pattern such as how long it took them to make a step and how much their steps change as they work.
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Changes In Mood Or Emotion
The person may be more anxious, frightened or sad, and so at risk of depression. It is also common to become more irritable perhaps in frustration at lost abilities or easily upset. A person can often be more withdrawn, lack self-confidence and lose interest in hobbies or people.
Changes in behaviour are not common in early-stage dementia, other than in FTD. A person with behavioural variant FTD may lose their inhibitions and behave in socially inappropriate ways. They may also act impulsively and lose empathy for others.
Significant physical changes at this stage tend to be limited to DLB, where problems with movement are similar to Parkinsons disease. If someone with vascular or mixed dementia has a stroke, this can lead to weak limbs on one side.
Need help finding dementia information?
Everybody forgets things from time to time. But if you or other people are noticing that memory problems are getting worse, or affecting everyday life, it could be a sign of dementia.
Who Diagnoses Dementia
The General Practitioner is usually the first contact when concerns about thinking or memory arise. The GP will take a medical history and may carry out a brief test of memory and concentration. If the GP is concerned about the possibility of dementia, the person may be referred to a specialist or specialist memory centre. It is important to remember that the choice of doctor is up to you so if after your visit you are still concerned and wish a referral to a specialist, you may wish to ask for a second opinion.
Specialists such as neurologists, geriatricians, psychogeriatricians, psychiatrists, and neuropsychologists have a more detailed knowledge of the memory and behaviour changes associated with dementia and may perform or arrange in-depth assessments, brain scans and blood tests. In Australia, a specialist must confirm the diagnosis of Alzheimers disease in order for you to be eligible for subsidised Alzheimers medications.
Aged Care Assessment Teams are multidisciplinary teams often comprised of social workers, occupational therapists, as well as nurses and doctors. ACATs are usually based in hospitals or regional community health centres. ACATs assess the health needs of ageing individuals, put the individual in contact with relevant services, make recommendations about the level of care required and approve eligibility for certain services.
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How Do I Treat Early
Keep your body in good shape, too. Make sure you eat healthy food and get regular exercise.
These medicines can delay or improve your symptoms for a few months to a few years. They may give you more time to live independently.