Saturday, April 22, 2017

Healthy Mind

I just read this book by a well-known Canadian neurologist.  Dr. Hakim originally worked at the Montreal Neurological Institute and then went on to work at the Ottawa Hospital becoming the Director of Neuroscience Research. His special area of interest is strokes and vascular disease.
In this book, he puts forward in easy- to- read layman terms the serious effects of vascular disease on our brains. It was thought that Alzheimer's disease accounted for most dementia but now it is becoming known that a lot of dementia is precipitated by strokes.

The strokes can be slight and not associated with significant physical changes and so they are often not noticed.  However, their damage is visible on MRIs  and over time can lead to significant cognitive deficits. As well, the strokes appear to interfere with our bodies ability to get rid of the plaques and tangles that can lead to Alzheimer's disease. A combination of vascular dementia and Alzheimer's is pretty common.

Dr. Hakim has suggestions for building brain resilience and what to avoid to reduce the likelihood of
vascular disease (high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, loneliness, inactivity, insufficient sleep).
In some ways, I found the book encouraging as it puts brain health in the same package as overall health and made Alzheimer's seem less arbitrary (although he did say that early onset Alzheimer's has a strong genetic aspect ). But it also made me realize that I probably need to work harder at keeping my brain fit.

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