From gum disease to hearing loss, depression, anxiety and more, there are a host of everyday afflictions that have been linked to this debilitating form of dementia.
This common blood disorder is defined by a decline in red blood cells. These cells transport oxygen, which is why a common symptom is persistent fatigue. Other symptoms include weakness, shortness of breath and cold hands and feet. Some studies have found a connection between anaemia and an increased risk of dementia in older adults. One of the most common causes of anaemia is an iron deficiency, which can result from a poor diet; it may also be a side effect of certain medications.
The concern is that by depriving the brain of oxygen, anaemia could lead to the type of damage seen in people with Alzheimer’s. The results of one 11-year study involving more than 2,500 people ages 70-79 revealed that those with anaemia had a 40 percent increased risk of developing dementia than people who didn’t have anaemia. You should also be aware of these obvious signs of dementia that are so easy to miss.
2. Depression and anxiety
“There’s quite a lot of evidence that for people who are destined to develop Alzheimer’s dementia, sometimes the first thing you see is depression or anxiety,” explains Pierre Tariot, MD, director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Arizona, USA. However, scientists say that these mood disorders may not be just a symptom of Alzheimer’s – they may actually be risk factors for developing the disease. Because depression and anxiety can elevate levels of the stress hormone cortisol, one theory is that chronically high levels of cortisol can damage the brain.
Interestingly, antidepressant drugs are being researched as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s. “Certain antidepressants have anti-amyloid [a protein associated with Alzheimer’s] properties with enough credibility that there are two trials of antidepressants that aim to find out if we can derail the Alzheimer’s process with these drugs,” Dr. Tariot says. For sufferers of depression, here are 10 surprising ways to be happier without really trying.
The link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s is fairly strong. “Diabetes is probably a risk factor for multiple reasons,” says Dr. Tariot. “Top of the list is that the disease leads to abnormal inflammatory responses in multiple organs – including the brain. Another reason is that the insulin-signalling pathway is also one of the pathways involved in the breakdown of amyloid. Finally, diabetes contributes to cerebrovascular disease [conditions that raise the risk of stroke], which is a significant factor for Alzheimer’s.”
Nearly 371 million people worldwide are affected by diabetes, and an estimated 54 million more have prediabetes, according to the International Diabetes Association. But the disease can be controlled with diet and lifestyle changes, and medication when necessary, to lower the risk. A great start is to try these 15 superfoods for diabetics in order to lower blood sugar, burn fat, reduce inflammation and gain more health benefits.