Alzheimer’s Disease

Brain health rests on heart health: Guidelines for lifestyle changes

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

The World Health Organization has issued prevention guidelines for preventing dementia. Of note, the guidelines are very similar to those for heart health, reinforcing the known connections between heart health and brain health.

Can an eye exam reveal Alzheimer’s risk?

New research considers whether certain eye conditions may help predict Alzheimer’s disease. The common link? Cardiovascular disease, which is partly preventable.

Intensive treatment of blood pressure helps prevent memory decline in older adults

Gad Marshall, MD

Contributor

The results of a study on cardiovascular health and memory found that people who received intensive treatment to lower their blood pressure were significantly less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment.

Could medications contribute to dementia?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A study found that people over 65 who were taking an anticholinergic medication (drugs that block the chemical messenger acetylcholine) were more likely to eventually be diagnosed with dementia, but these results don’t show that this class of drugs definitively causes dementia.

New study downplays potential risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease among elderly men treated with hormonal therapy for prostate cancer

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

The male hormone testosterone contributes to normal brain function, and some research links memory loss in older men to testosterone declines that occur naturally with aging. However, testosterone is also like jet fuel for prostate tumors, causing them to grow faster, so during cancer treatment doctors will often give hormonal therapies that suppress its activities […]

Can getting quality sleep help prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

Matthew Solan

Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Sleep gives the brain the opportunity to rid itself of proteins believed to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and now research is showing an association between poor sleep and the accumulation of those proteins.

Super-agers: This special group of older adults suggests you can keep your brain young and spry

Matthew Solan

Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

While some people seem genetically predisposed to retain mental sharpness in old age, there are things anyone can do that can help maintain cognitive ability, or perhaps improve it.

A healthy lifestyle may help you sidestep Alzheimer’s

By now it’s evident that healthy lifestyle habits have clear benefits, and evidence suggests that keeping Alzheimer’s disease at bay may eventually be added to the list. Data are strongest for regular exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and sufficient sleep as important ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Other lifestyle choices may help as well.

A twist on the genetic link between Alzheimer’s and heart disease

Although the two conditions seem unrelated, Alzheimer’s and heart disease actually share a genetic link. People who have a certain gene variant have both a somewhat elevated heart disease risk and a significantly elevated Alzheimer’s risk. Fortunately, a recent study has suggested that when people know they have this variant, they’re more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices that benefit their heart — and what’s good for the heart is good for the brain.

Decline in dementia rate offers “cautious hope”

Beverly Merz

Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Last year, the Alzheimer’s Association predicted that rates of dementia would continue to rise. However, a report recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that rates of dementia have actually dropped steadily over the past three decades. Whether the drop in rates applies to everyone, and whether it will continue, remain to be seen. But the evidence also confirms that there’s quite a lot you can do to lower your dementia risk.