How to prevent dementia, Alzheimer's disease

Posted at 05/07/14 7:31 PM

Magandang Gabi Dok with Dr. Patricio Reyes, an Arizona-based neurologist and neuropathologist

MANILA -- A health expert on Tuesday gave tips on how people can lessen the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

On Tuesday's episode of "Magandang Gabi Dok," Dr. Patricio Reyes, an Arizona-based neurologist and neuropathologist, explained the causes of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, and gave tips on how they can be prevented.

Symptoms of dementia include forgetfulness, confusion, depression and difficulty in doing common social and professional functions.

"Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, especially among elder people. Naguumpisa ito sa isang parte ng utak, ang hippocamus na nasa temporal lobe. Ito ay isang maliit na parte ng utak kung saang ang mga brain cells ay negdedegenerate, namamatay.Yung brain natin, nagkakaroon ng lesions," Reyes explained.

He added that certain health conditions and diseases such as stroke, head trauma, vitamin deficiency and thyroid problems can cause dementia.

Reyes said there are no records available in the Philippines, but in the US, 5.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's Disease.

He added that as people become older, they are at higher risk of getting the disease.

"Kapag ang tao ay 65 years and up, 10% ang risk factor. Kapag 85 and up, nagiging 50% ang risk factor," Reyes explained.

Some medicines can also cause temporary confusion, but this does not necessarily mean that a person has dementia.

"Minsan kapag umiinom tayo ng painkillers, inaantok tayo, we become confused, pero hindi ibig sabihin may dementia," Reyes said.

Reyes stressed that there are different causes of dementia, and that a person should go to a doctor to get diagnosed and to receive proper medication.

"Sa pagtanda natin, nakakalimot tayo ng kaunti, pero ang pagkalimot natin dapat hindi nakakaapekto sa social at professional functioning natin. Kapag dementia, naapektuhan ang professional function," he said.

He added that doctors opt to call dementia a cognitive disorder, instead of a "mental" disease which has a negative connotation.

"Dementia affects the congnitive function, nagiiba ang thinking process. May mga pasyente na pumupunta sa amin, depressed. Akala nila depression lang, pero sa ilalim nun, may dementia pala," he said.

According to Reyes, the treatment of dementia depends on what caused it.

"Kung halimbawa, kulang sa Vitamin B12, bibigyan lang ng vitamins, gagaling na 'yung dementia. Kung kulang sa hormones, dadagdagan lang ng hormones," he said.

Tips to prevent dementia

Reyes stressed that there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and it cannot be prevented completely.

But certain lifestyle changes can lower a person's risk of acquiring the disease in the future.

The doctor warned against eating food that's high in cholesterol, as it blocks the veins and affect the brain.

"Your diet should be low in cholesterol, kasi it is harmful to the brain. Nababarahan ang blood vessels. Kung ano ang maganda sa puso, maganda sa brain," he advised.

A diet rich in fish and green, leafy vegetables can help keep the brain healthy. Spices like cumin and turmeric are also good for the brain.

Reyes added that mental and physical exercises can also help prevent dementia.

"Ang brain kasi parang highway. Kapag nababarahan, may traffic. 'Yung brain exercises, nire-repair ang highway, gumagawa ng side road para mai-connect ulit ang mga vessels sa utak," he explained.

Dementia may be hereditary, but Reyes added that only 3-5% of people with parents suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease, suffer the same fate.

"Alzheimer's disease starts from age 65 and above. Kapag bata pa at may sakit na, minsan tinitingnan namin na baka hereditary," he said.

The doctor also clarified that short-term memory loss can also be a symptom of dementia, but this does not necessarily lead to Alzheimer's disease.