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Alzheimer’s Awareness Month: Your Top 5 Questions Answered

1.    What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Nearly 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is expected to triple by 2050.  Experts estimate that an Alzheimer’s diagnosis will affect close to 15 million people by mid-century.

Forgetfulness, agitation and frustration, social withdraw, and difficulty with daily tasks, are all symptoms of Dementia.  Alzheimer’s is the most progressive form of dementia.  As the “tangles” in the Alzheimer’s brain become unattached, they disrupt the communication in the brain.

With Dementia, there are several different types, but one common and often overlooked type is vascular dementia, which usually affects individuals that have suffered a stroke or mini-stroke(s). Vascular dementia injures the brain in the area that controls memory, problem solving and speech.

2.    What are the Risk Factors & Causes of Dementia?
For years, medical professionals and researchers have been trying to find the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  Even with the top three speculative triggers, it’s still unclear as to what is causing this devastating disease to rob so many people of their cognition.

The main hallmarks of the disease are attributed to amyloid plaques, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, and neurofibrillary tangles.   While these pathological markers are evident in many individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, they are not always present in all; consequently, they cannot entirely account for the umbrella of cognitive disorders.

In a recent study, top neurologists and researchers went a few steps further, to shed light on a new discovery in the causes of Alzheimer’s. The study looked at the cerebrovascular pathologies, cardiovascular health, and microvascular disorders.  Almost all individuals with dementia show signs of some vascular impairment on various levels.

3.    What are the Symptoms?
The signs and symptoms of dementia are different throughout the various stages of the disease, but common indicators are as follows:
• Forgetfulness, especially short-term memory
• Change in personality
• Agitation/Frustration
• Difficulty with daily tasks
• Social withdraw
• Aphasia (speech disorders)
• Sundowning (confusion and sleeplessness in the evening)

4.    What are the Treatment Options?
Some medications can slow the progression of the disease, but these are unfortunately not a curative treatment method.  However, we do know that following helps patients stave off the disorder:
• Dietary guidance
• Physical activity
• Cognitive training and socialization
• Intensive monitoring and management of metabolic and vascular risk factors

5.    How can you Prevent Cognitive Decline and the Progression of the Disease?
Maintaining a healthy brain starts by eating a nutritious diet, such as the Mediterranean, MIND or DASH diet, which provide essential nutrients for the brain’s condition.  All three of these diets emphasize eating plenty of vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, whole grains and lean protein (especially cold-water fish), while avoiding sugar, simple carbs and saturated fats. Eating this way is thought to prevent cognitive decline by proving the brain and body with antioxidants, and the good fats that it needs to function properly.  Excessive sugar, simple carbohydrates, processed foods and chemicals are known to cause brain and memory degeneration.

Staying active and social is also a useful method for maintaining optimal brain health.  Along with socialization, staying physically active is imperative in the production of oxygen-rich blood flow and can decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

A few years ago there was a cognitive study performed, the first of its kind, which incorporated an interventional methodology to take a multi-domain approach to dementia prevention.  The trial called the FINGER Study was conducted over a two-year period in Finland by a team of healthcare providers.

With over 1200 participants, the randomized tests were done on a control group and a multi-domain intervention group. The control group was given regular health advice on a weekly basis, while the intervention group was given tactical exercise, diets and performance studies three to four times per week.

The multi-domain intervention group’s protocol consisted of:
• Dietary guidance
• Physical activity
• Cognitive training and socialization
• Intensive monitoring and management of metabolic
and vascular risk factors

The conclusion of the study showed that it is possible to prevent cognitive decline through physical exercise, diet, cognitive training and socialization, and by lower metabolic risk factors.

If caught early, this progressive disease can be delayed through specifically advanced treatment options like diet, exercise and refining memory skills. Neurologists and other professionally trained practitioners are essential in putting the pieces back together.

Anette Nieves, M.D., Neurology   
Dr. Anette Nieves is a fellowship trained neurologist treating patients with Parkinson’s disease, tremors, tics, dystonia and dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease. She also evaluates with movement disorders for treatment with deep brain stimulation. Dr. Nieves further developed her expertise as an assistant professor of neurology and now brings her devotion to treating patients with neurological disease and disorders to patients in both Ocala and The Villages.

Medical Education:
University of Puerto Rico, -School of Medicine, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Internship:
San Juan City Hospital, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Residency:
University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, NJ

Fellowships:
University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Accepting patients in two convenient locations:

Munroe Medical Group – Applewood
2801 SE 1st Avenue, Bldg. 300, Suite 302
Ocala, FL 34471

Munroe Medical Group – Villages
8550 NE 138th Lane, Bldg. 400
Lady Lake, FL 32159

Member of the Medical Staff at Munroe Regional Medical Center

If you or someone you know is having symptoms of memory loss, please contact Munroe Medical Group today to get started with a treatment protocol specifically designed for you.

1-844-285-1923
MunroeMedicalGroup.com

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