The fact that there is no medical treatment for Alzheimer’s disease has led scientists across the world to redirect their focus on what can induce prevention of the disease that affects nearly 5.3 million Americans in a year and cost the state exchequer an estimated $226 billion in payments for treatment options and healthcare provisions in 2015.
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania tried to understand if the development of Alzheimer’s disease could be prevented by interventions through lifestyle management.
The study, titled “Longitudinal Relationships between Caloric Expenditure and Gray Matter in the Cardiovascular Health Study,” is based on the researchers’ understanding that any kind of exercise or physical activity can aid in the salvage, recovery or regeneration of the nervous system. The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in March 2016, aimed at examining and analyzing how caloric expenditure, as a proxy marker of physical activity, predicted the measure of volume of gray matter in normal and cognitively disabled old people.
For the purpose of the research, the scientists looked at a prolonged unit of 876 patients enrolled in the Institutional Review Board approved 30-year Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) across four research sites in the U.S. The participants, averaged 78 years, had to undergo a longitudinal memory follow-up and were made to answer questions concerning their daily physical habits.
Scientists evaluated the participants’ volumes of brain structures, including those implicated in memory and Alzheimer’s such as the hippocampus by making use of the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brains examined in detail by means of advanced computer algorithms. The physical activities of the respondents, ranging from gardening and dancing to riding an exercise cycle at the gym, were correlated and tallied with brain volumes and weekly caloric output from these activities were summed up.
The findings of the study pointed out the proportional relationship between the level of physical activity and the brain volumes. The scientists observed that the higher the level of physical activity for the respondents, the larger were their brain volumes in the frontal, temporal and parietal lobes, including the hippocampus. It was found that those respondents who had experienced a brain benefit owing to an increase in their physical activities were 50 percent less likely to be aggrieved with Alzheimer’s disease. Additional physical activity also resulted in gain in the brain volumes of the 25 percent of the participants diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.
Significance of the study
The importance of the study can be understood in the light of the fact that since there is no therapeutic interventions for complete recovery from Alzheimer’s, the research highlights the need and benefit of impeding the development of this disease by simple intervening methods like inclusion of physical activity in daily routine.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Cyrus A. Raji of UCLA, said, “This is the first study in which we have been able to correlate the predictive benefit of different kinds of physical activity with the reduction of Alzheimer’s risk through specific relationships with better brain volume in such a large sample.”
The observations made during the study hold great promise as they lend a safer and alternative way of treating the disease with the help of methods such as exercise. The study can be looked upon as an important discovery that correlates exercise to augmentation of the gray matter and paves the way for subjecting lifestyle intervention to objective biological measurement. The findings of the study, if worked upon further and implemented on people during the early stages of cognitive impairment, would save millions of Americans that succumb to the disease each year.
Looking for recovery
Among the top 10 causes of death in the U.S., Alzheimer’s disease is the only one that can be neither prevented nor cured. The Sovereign Mental Health Services is well-equipped with a team of certified medical practitioners experienced to handle cases of those suffering from underlying mental health conditions by making use of innovative and cutting edge cognitive testing, rehabilitation and evidence-based treatment modalities. You may call our 24/7 helpline at 866-954-0529 or chat online for further information.