While the brain accounts for only 2% of body weight, it uses 25% to 50% of all the calories and oxygen we take in.
As we age, it is not uncommon to experience age-related memory impairment (AMI) which includes mild forgetfulness. Studies have shown there is a memory decline from age 25 to age 40 of about 21%. This decline continues, so that by age 70-79, the memory decline may be as much as 43%.
The intermediate state between normal age-related memory changes and dementia is mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This is a more severe form where people often forget words, facts, and events. MCI is associated with a higher degree of damage to the brain and neurons.
According to a recent study, of the people sixty-four and older with MCI, about 15% go on to develop Alzheimer's every year. However, many people with MCI never progress to dementia and in this phase, it is even possible to improve cognitive function once it is diagnosed and treated.
Finally, cognitive decline severe enough to interfere with daily life is termed dementia. Generally, dementia results from the widespread death or malfunction of neurons. This is NOT a natural consequence of aging.
Some startling statistics on Alzheimer's include:
- The costs for patients with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia is estimated to increase 500% by the year 2050 to $1.1 trillion per year.
- Every 70 seconds someone develops Alzheimer's disease in America.
- It is the fourth leading cause of death for people over age 65.
- The younger the onset of Alzheimer's the more likely it is genetic.
- Several genes have been identified that cause Alzheimer's.
- APOE 4 is a gene carried by 30% of people, but only 10% who carry the gene get Alzheimer's.
- Head trauma with loss of consciousness doubles the risk of getting Alzheimer's.
- Head trauma with APOE 4 gene increases the risk tenfold.
While these statistics are alarming, there are many risk factors that are within our control and many environmental and lifestyle choices can greatly improve our odds of avoiding this devastating disease.
To read our full article on Alzheimer's and brain health which lists specific risk factors and prevention strategies, visit our website at Vitopia Health You can find the article under Learn-->Choose a Health Condition-->Alzheimer's.
To Your Health!
Mike Woodley, R.Ph., FAARM, ABAAHP