LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - About 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer's Disease. By 2025, that number will be more than 7 million.
Age is the number one risk factor when it comes to Alzheimer's but researchers say brain changes can begin 25 years before the onset of the disease, and that lifestyle can have a dramatic impact. Dr. Morgan Sauer with St. Vincent says heart health, blood pressure and diabetes are all predictors of who is at risk, making nutrition and exercise important today, including:
- Control blood pressure through medications
- Plenty of exercise
- Eat proper nutrition
- Avoid salt
According to Dr. Sauer, "Studies have actually shown that walking can increase the size of the area and blood flow to the area where Alzheimer's starts, called the hippocampus, which is in the middle of the brain."
Sleep health is also related to the risk for Alzheimer's. Dr. Sauer says sleep disorders such as sleep apnea have been linked to the disease.
Low levels of education have also been linked to Alzheimer's. Dr. Sauer recommends a lot of mental stimulation and social interaction.
"Go out and do things like playing games, playing cards, music, reading - anything that involves the mind and using imagination."