The number of people with dementia is expected to exceed 130 million by 2050. This could bring the total number of cases in the UK to two million. Although the condition is not reversible, early detection of warning signs can allow for better preparation. Experts have already identified a potential new factor that can precede brain deterioration by up to two decades.
A new study, published in The Lancet, has identified constipation as one of the first factors signaling the onset of cognitive decline, which appears years earlier.
The link between Alzheimer’s disease and constipation appeared seven years before the diagnosis of the neurodegenerative disease.
Other conditions associated with a later diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease may include anxiety, constipation, abnormal weight loss, reaction to extreme stress, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and cervical spondylosis ( a type of arthritis), according to the study.
Katie Bray, Ph.D., told Medical News Today, “Diseases like Alzheimer’s disease can appear in the brain for up to two decades before symptoms begin to appear.
“It’s unclear how these conditions might contribute to disease progression or whether they might also be very early symptoms.”
See More information: Dementia: ‘one of the first changes’ before memory loss – may indicate Alzheimer’s disease
The researchers analyzed the medical records of over 20,000 Alzheimer’s patients in the UK and over 19,000 Alzheimer’s patients in France.
Some of the conditions listed above have already been recognized as risk factors for dementia; Namely, hearing loss, depression and sleep disturbances.
But constipation has not yet been identified as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Thomas Nedelk, one of the first authors of the study, noted that “the links established allowed us to confirm known associations, such as hearing problems or depression, and other unknown factors or early symptoms, such as cervical spondylosis or constipation”.
“The question remains whether the health conditions we experience are risk factors, symptoms, or warning signs of disease.”
The study authors concluded their paper with the following statement: “Our results allow the modeling of potential risk factor pathways that lead to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, providing new insights into potential windows of prevention. “
Common causes of constipation include a lack of dietary fiber in the diet, as well as insufficient fluid intake or impaired movement.
How to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
The risk of cognitive decline increases markedly with age, but researchers believe that certain habits can slow this cognitive decline.
Low-grade inflammation in the body is a major contributor to the disease, but fortunately exercise can counteract this.
The exercise targets the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that regulates decision-making and personality.
But it also leads to the production of new brain cells in the hippocampus, increasing their size and maintaining memory.
Cognitive activities can also make a significant difference in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.