September is World Alzheimer’s Month. A recent study predicts Dementia cases will triple worldwide by the year 2050. Meanwhile, another study has found a connection between COVID-19 and brain changes seen in Alzheimer's patients.
Cleveland Clinic's Dr. James Leverenz said there are a few reasons why researchers predict the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer's to rise so dramatically.
"In a lot of developing countries, people are living longer. We’re seeing more diabetes, greater weight gain, more smoking, and those risk factors, along with aging, are increasing the risk for Alzheimer’s and related dementias,” Dr. Leverenz said.
He said Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia describes the group of symptoms that can affect thinking, memory, reasoning, personality, mood, and behavior.
Dr. Leverenz said this study proves the importance of early intervention — especially in younger people who still have the chance to lose weight, start working out, and quit smoking.
"A lot of our research here at the Cleveland Clinic is focused on how physical activity interacts with genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease and the immune system. So we’re very excited about trying to parse out what ways we can recommend people to prevent getting Alzheimer’s, even when they carry a risk gene," he said.
Right now, there’s no one test to determine if someone has dementia — doctors typically do a series of exams.
Another study by the Cleveland Clinic has found a connection between COVID-19 and brain changes seen in Alzheimer’s patients.
This study started at the beginning of the pandemic. Researchers looked at the gene or protein expression in 80 Alzheimer’s patients, and the gene or protein expression in COVID-19 patients. Many Coronavirus long-haulers — especially older in age — have reported memory loss, cognitive impairment, and other brain issues. After taking a look at that data, researchers said the virus can affect the brain in the same way Alzheimer’s does.
The Cleveland Clinic said this information can help doctors create a prevention and treatment plan. It also said it’s another reason why getting the COVID-19 vaccine is important.