Many preventive measures for cognitive decline and for preventing Alzheimer's diseasemental stimulation, exercise, and a variety of dietary supplementshave been studied over the years. However, an independent panel convened this week by the National Institutes of Health determined that the value of these strategies for delaying the onset and/or reducing the severity of decline or disease hasn't been demonstrated in rigorous studies.
"Alzheimer's disease is a feared and heart-breaking disease," said Dr. Martha L. Daviglus, conference panel chair and professor of preventive medicine and medicine at Northwestern University, Chicago. "We wish we could tell people that taking a pill or doing a puzzle every day would prevent this terrible disease, but current evidence doesn't support this."
The panel's assessment of the available evidence revealed that progress to understand how the onset of these conditions might be delayed or prevented is limited by inconsistent definitions of what constitutes Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline. Other factors include incomplete understanding of the natural history of the disease and limited understanding of the aging process in general. The panel recommended that the research community and clinicians collaborate to develop, test, and uniformly adopt objective measures of baseline cognitive function and changes over time.
Although many non-modifiable risk factors have been examined, age is the strongest known risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. Additionally, a genetic variant of a cholesterol-ferrying protein (apolipoprotein E), has strong evidence of association with the risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. Although it is hoped that improved understanding of genetic risk factors may ultimately lead to effective therapies, currently these associations are primarily useful in the clinical research setting.
The panel determined that there is currently no evidence of even moderate scientif
|Contact: Lisa Ahramjian|
NIH/National Institutes of Health, Office of Disease Prevention