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Over 30 million people in the world live with Alzheimer's disease and while scientists are working extra hard to find the cure for this ailment, their efforts so far are futile. Prevention is the only game this condition understands.Alzheimer's disease is a leading cause of deaths in both Wales and England, hence the reason researchers are spending sleepless nights to control the disease.In a research published recently, some US scientists claimed that dementia could be reduced by 29 percent through a form of computer-based brain training.
Dementia is generally the term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to disorient one's normal daily life.It may occur after a stroke, vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems.Dementia caused by thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies are reversible while that which is caused by a stroke, sadly, is irreversible.
The training is aimed at speeding up a person's visual information processing, e.g., by having them spot a track on the periphery of their vision and a car on a screen at the same time.The training was done for one hour, twice a week, for five consecutive weeks and for some they went on and had booster sessions at the end of the first and the third years.To test if the training was successful, ten years later the participants were put to the test.
Although the finding was published in a journal Alzheimer's and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions, there is a good number of reasons to be wary about the results. First, the study was designed only to examine dementia, and they didn't count on clinical diagnosis when they concluded who had dementia at the end of the trial.They instead opted for a more comprehensive definition and allowed the patients to self-report that they had the condition.Peter Passmore, an Alzheimer's researcher at Queen's University in Belfast, stated that when you say you are preventing dementia, first you have to agree on the definition of the term itself.
The scientists also tested two other kinds of brain training -- the two tests were designed for strengthening mental reasoning and memory.Ten years after the training the researchers found that about 23 percent of the people in the training lot had dementia compared to 24.2 percent in both the reasoning and memory lot.In a control group where no training was carried out, the dementia rate was 28.8 percent.
For studies such as this, researchers have to take into account whether an intervention will have a positive impact or a negative impact.There is a definite rule in research stating that if a chance of a fluke is more than 5 percent, it is not worth taking seriously.The result of mental reasoning and memory brain training failed the statistical test.On the other hand, the effect that was linked to visual processing was at the edge of statistical significance with the visual speed training figure running to 4.9 percent.
Clare Walton, a manager at the Alzheimer's Society, stated that a high-quality evidence is lacking to show that brain training had an impact on the risk of dementia, so they can't recommend someone to take the training.What they know is that keeping the brain and the body active in life can go towards reducing the risks.
Ways of preventing and controlling dementia
There are some factors in dementia that cannot be changed.These factors include genetics, age, ethnicity, and gender.It may be a little late to do something about others but to spend more years in education while younger has a protective effect against dementia, but whether returning to training later in life will have an impact is a topic still in discussion.
Until a breakthrough into dementia treatment is discovered, lifestyle changes remain the only promising way to ease dementia risk.Smokers are at more risk of getting dementia than their counterparts are.It is estimated that 30 to 70 percent of smokers are at risk of getting this disorder.High blood pressure is another factor that could increase the likelihood of having dementia.Therefore having control over one's blood pressure could come a long way in avoiding this disorder.
Scientists always say that what is good for the heart is also good for the brain.The basis of these claims comes mostly from research on diet and exercise.It shows that eating a healthy meal rich in vegetables, oily fish, vegetables, sugar, and meat reduces the risk by 50 percent while regular exercise reduces the risk by 30 to 40 percent.
Walton advises people to take up an activity that hits some risk factors all at the same time.Joining sports clubs such as football and tennis is an excellent way to get the needed exercise and learn new skills to keep the brain active and sharp.