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Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimer’s disease and vitamin b12 deficiency’

Can Aerobics Cure Alzheimer’s Disease?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

There’s no running away from old age, but you might be able to run it off; that’s what scientists are saying about reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

A study, published in 2011 by the National Academy of Sciences, proves that aerobic exercise may reverse the shrinking of the hippocampus, the part of our brain essential for memory retention and learning, in our old age.

Conducted by Arthur Kramer, director of the Beckman Institute and professor of neuroscience at the University of Illinois, this surprising research also concludes that memory can be improved through regular aerobic exercise.

Aerobic exercise is defined by the National Institute of Health (NIH) as any activity which includes “repetitive movement of large muscle groups” and gets its power source from fresh supplies of oxygen.

The study followed 120 American senior citizens between the ages of 50-80. Half of the participants were assigned an aerobic exercise regimen 3 times per week aimed at helping them reach their target high rate; the other half were given instruction in yoga and other stretching exercises. MRI scanning of both groups revealed the following results:

  • Over the course of one year, the senior citizens who did regular aerobic exercise 3 times per week increased the size of their hippocampus by 2%.
  • The group who practiced stretching and muscle toning but did not reach their target heart rate showed a decrease in hippocampus size by 1.4%.

These findings overwhelmingly prove that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can be reduced or reversed by an aerobic exercise fitness regimen, even into old age.

Sources:

Huffington PostNational Institute of Health

FDA Approves Brain Scan to Detect Alzheimer’s Disease

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

It’s being hailed as a medical breakthrough: scientists have discovered a way to use a PET brain scan to detect the beginnings of Alzheimer’s disease as early as twenty years before any symptoms arise.

Currently, the only way to accurately diagnosis Alzheimer’s is posthumously, via autopsy.  But an innovative new brain scan will make it possible to detect the warning signs, clusters of proteins called amyloid plaque, and begin the process of treating the disease immediately.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a radioactive dye called Amyvid is used as a magnet for amyloid plaque; once injected into the arm it attaches itself to the destructive protein. High levels of Amyvid, when picked up on a PET scan, indicate a strong likeliness that somebody will develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

While having a high level of Amyvid does not guarantee the presence of Alzheimer’s- approximately 30% of subjects with high Amyvid will never develop any form of dementia- low Amyvid levels may be used to negate that possibility.

Scientists have also linked a correlation between vitamin b12 deficiency and Alzheimer’s disease. A Finnish study which followed 271 senior citizens found that elderly test subjects with sufficiently high levels of vitamin b12 and proportionately low traces of homocysteine (an amino acid linked to dementia, stroke and heart disease) were the least likely of all to suffer Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Memory loss, misplacing everyday objects, tendency to wander
  • Mood swings, paranoia, aggression, childlike behavior
  • Lack of decision-making ability
  • Difficulty managing financial transactions
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Disassociation from formerly enjoyable pastimes
  • Loss of motor skills, difficulty dressing oneself
  • Inattention to personal hygiene
  • Repetitive speech

B12 deficiency is common among the aging; physicians recommend a regular regimen of vitamin b12 supplementation in order to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s or diminish the symptoms where dementia has already been established.

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