As you may know, the subject of dementia is invariably included in the presentations I make …for very good reason. Of the leading causes of death, Alzheimer’s disease is the only one for which there is no way to prevent it, cure it or slow its progression. Right now in Canada a new case of Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed every 5 minutes; by 2031 a new case will be diagnosed every 2 minutes unless a cause/cure can be found.
The disease can begin in the brain some 15 years before a person ever shows symptoms. There are currently 4 drugs on the market which treat only the symptoms of the disease, such as memory loss, and none are considered by experts to be particularly effective. As of 2014,the 244 drug compounds that have been investigated in 214 clinical trials have racked up a 99.9 per cent failure rate. At present there are 2 drugs in Phase 3 trials but it will be 2018 before either makes it to market. In addition, an insulin nasal spray shows promise.
In the meantime, what can Canadians do to stave off Alzheimer’s? Exercise continues to be a first line of defense; exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain. Secondly, a new diet has been developed to stave off Alzheimer’s. The MIND plan (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) has been developed by researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. It has been shown to reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s by 53 percent in those who follow the diet strictly, and by 35 per cent for those who follow it modestly. Visit www.rush.edu/news/diet-may-help-prevent-alzheimers for more information.