Estelle Getty, one of “The Golden Girls," died at age 75 from complications of Lewy body dementia. Charles Bronson of the movie "Death Wish" battled Alzheimer's before succumbing at age 81.
Like them, millions of Americans face cognition problems while in their 70s. In fact, 44 percent of people 75 to 84 and 15 percent of those 65 to 74 have Alzheimer's and/or another form of dementia.
So when a panel of experts recommended screening for cognitive problems starting at age 70, we thought it made sense.
Some causes of cognitive problems — such as depression, hypothyroidism, sleep apnea, and medications — can be treated and even reversed. And the progression of cognitive diseases like vascular dementia or Alzheimer's sometimes can be slowed by adopting a healthy diet and controlling high blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and high blood glucose.
Staying engaged in social and intellectual pursuits also helps.
But why wait till you're 70? Today we can identify risk factors for cognitive problems sooner, and act to eliminate them.
High blood pressure is a big culprit: One study found that 17 percent of dementia cases result from untreated or ineffectively treated midlife hypertension.
And if your glucose level is 115 mg/dL (which indicates prediabetes), your risk of developing cognition problems jumps 18 percent. Full-blown diabetes increases the risk 40 percent!
So check your blood pressure and glucose levels with your doc. And at any age, eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and veggies daily, get in 10,000 steps every day, and learn to manage stress.
Posts by Dr. Mehmet Oz, M.D. and Dr. Mike Roizen, M.D.
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