New Delhi , Sep 21 : According to statistics, about 3.7 million people in India suffer from Alzheimer's disease and this is likely to double by 2030.
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia and related disorders. A recent study has indicated that those with Type 2 diabetes are 50% to 65% more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those with normal blood sugars.
About half of those with Type 2 diabetes will go on to develop Alzheimer's in their lifetime. This disease is now being referred to as Type 3 diabetes.
Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative ailment of the brain. What makes this disease so severe is the fact that there is no treatment to cure or slow its progress till date. Even though some medications can temporarily help manage symptoms from worsening, these drugs are effective only for about 6 to 12 months. Its diagnosis can be life changing for not only the patient but also for the whole family. The term Type 3 diabetes reflects the fact that AD represents a form of diabetes that selectively involves the brain and has molecular and biochemical features that overlap with both type 1 diabetes mellitus and T2DM.
Speaking about this, Dr Sanjay Kalra, Consultant Endocrinologist -Bharti Hospital Karnal and Vice President - South Asian Federation of Endocrine Societies, said, "In a person with Alzheimer's, clumps of protein called beta-amyloid plaques form between the brain cells, blocking communication. Research indicates that people with Type 2 diabetes have beta-amyloid deposits in the pancreas which are similar to those found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.Insulin resistance can deprive the brain cells of glucose which is needed for their functioning, causing damage. This insulin resistance in the brain has been accorded the name Type 3 diabetes."
Adding, "Referring to AD as T3DM is justified, because the fundamental molecular and biochemical abnormalities overlap with T1DM and T2DM rather than mimic the effects of either one. Alzheimer's is fast becoming more and more common as the society expands into one of the world's largest and fast-moving industrial giants in the world. Memory loss that accompanies aging doesn't necessarily occur because of age, but because there is not enough exercise for the brain during old age. On World Alzheimer's Day, it is important to raise awareness on the importance of staying active by participating in activities that keep themind and body sharp, as also avoid the possible risk factors by making necessary lifestyle changes."
In those who are in the early stages of Type 3 diabetes, or are at a risk for it, lab tests can indicate elevated blood sugar levels. They are also likely to have one of the warning signs of Alzheimer's disease such as forgetfulness. Some other symptoms of this disease include memory loss that disrupts daily life, challenges in solving problems, confusion in time and place, problems with speaking or writing, poor judgement, withdrawal from social life, and mood changes.
Adding further, Dr Kalra, said, "There are two main strategies followed in the treatment and management of Alzheimer's: non-drug strategy and prescription medication. It is always better to adopt the non-drug strategy first. It is imperative to tailor medication for elder patients carefully. The choice of drug, how long it should be continued, etc. should be decided based on an individual's symptoms and circumstances. This becomes all the more important in those living with Type 2 diabetes. "Sleeping pills" for older adults with dementia are also best avoided as these can cause incontinence, falls, and increased agitation, apart from other serious side effects."
Some tips to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's later in life include the following.
-Maintain a healthy weight.
-Eat mindfully. Include vegetables and fruits; whole grains; fish, lean poultry, tofu, and beans and other legumes as protein sources; and healthy fats in your diet.
-Exercise regularly for about 30 minutes every day as this helps improve blood flow to the brain.
-Keep an eye on important health numbers such as cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
-Exercise the brain through related games such as puzzles, crosswords, memory, and mental activity games.
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