Your Frantic Lifestyle Could Trigger Dementia or Alzheimer’s
While the causes of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia are not definitively known, there is a lot of data regarding lifestyle factors that could increase your chances of developing either ailment. One such factor is an overly hectic lifestyle. Recent studies have shown that living a lifestyle full of constant stress could increase a person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and/or dementia. Researchers from all over the world, including the University of California at Irvine, have studied the effects of stress on Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as its role as a potential contributing factor.
The Heat Brain Connection
It is well known that stress plays a significant role in the development of many health problems, including heart disease and hypertension. The American Psychological Association explains the connection between stress and high blood pressure on its website: “Chronic stress, or a constant stress experienced over a prolonged period of time, can contribute to long-term problems for heart and blood vessels. The consistent and ongoing increase in heart rate, and the elevated levels of stress hormones, and of blood pressure, can take a toll on the body. This long-term ongoing stress can increase the risk for hypertension, heart attack or stroke.” It is widely accepted that there is a connection between cardiovascular issues and brain ailments. The American Heart Association explains, “… unhealthy behaviors can lead to narrowing of the blood vessels. That reduces blood flow to the brain, and leads to hardening of the arteries of the heart and the brain.”
Hormones associated with stress have been shown to increase the chances of developing heart attacks and strokes, and these hormones are also thought to be responsible for an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. The University of California-Irvine published conclusions related to this relationship in a blog post titled, “Stress and its Influence on Alzheimer’s Disease,” which states “It was found, over twenty years ago, that patients with Alzheimer’s disease had elevated levels of cortisol in their blood streams, compared to healthy patients. This elevation correlated with the degree of memory impairments that the patients had and appeared early on in the disease progression.” For those with chronic stress, these hormones build up in the body.
Since the ill effects of chronic stress are widely known and well documented, it makes sense for people to learn how to chill out. It is critical that we all take steps to calm down in order to live longer and healthier lives. Webpsychology offers a tool that will help you determine your levels of stress, and also offers resources that can help you manage your stress levels. Some methods for reducing stress included exercising regularly and sticking with a regular sleep schedule. It is also helpful to practice meditation, yoga or some other method of relaxation on a regular basis in order to calm the mind and reduce stress levels. If you are living a stressful lifestyle, take some time to decompress every day, ignoring your phone and your schedule. If you have to make an appointment to fit it in, then do so, but make sure to stick with it.
For those with a genetic risk towards Alzheimer’s or dementia, living a frantically paced lifestyle could significantly increase your chances of developing the disease. It is crucial that you learn healthy ways to manage your stress levels or reorganize your life to make it less stressful. You may consider looking for a less demanding job or reducing some of the activities in which your children participate so you don’t have to run them around all the time. Or you may consider making other arrangements for transportation a couple of times a week, so that you can have your own “chill” time. Relaxing can not only calm your mind, it may just save your life.