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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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October 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 7)

Alzheimer's drugs don't work, but keeping your heart healthy just might
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Alzheimer's drugs don't work, but keeping your heart healthy just might image

The only drug licensed to prevent Alzheimer's disease doesn't work. Instead, staying mentally stimulated, avoiding stress and keeping your cardiovascular system healthy are far more effective.

Researchers have identified 10 key factors that influence your chances of ever developing Alzheimer's, but the acetylcholinesterase (Ache) inhibitors aren't among them, and nor are HRT (hormone replacement therapy) drugs. The Ache inhibitors are designed to protect cholinergic pathways in the brain, which have been associated with Alzheimer's.

The key seems to be in keeping the heart and cardiovascular healthy through diet and exercise, researchers from Fudan University in China concluded after taking another look at 395 studies that had reviewed ways to prevent the disease.

High blood pressure (hypertension) and cholesterol levels are the two factors linked to cases of Alzheimer's that are most often cited in the studies, followed by type 2 diabetes, which can also affect the heart. Others in their top 10 included staying mentally stimulated by learning a new skill or subject, reading, and avoiding stress and depression.

Another nine recommendations, which didn't have so much supportive evidence, included getting regular exercise, sleeping well, maintaining a healthy body weight, not smoking and taking vitamin C.

But there was no evidence that the Ache inhibitors would help prevent the disease, even though they were designed to do just that. Women taking HRT were also not protected.

Alzheimer's and dementia have become major killers, and around 850,000 Britons alone have some form of dementia. Since the launch of the Ache inhibitors more than 20 years ago, there hasn't been any other drug launched to treat the problem.

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(Source: Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 2020; jnnp-2019-321913)

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