KARACHI: While Alzheimer’s disease can’t be cured, the pace of the disease can be slowed down with the help of medication, exercise, creative work and positive social activities, said experts in an online seminar held recently in connection with World Alzheimer’s Day.

The event was organised by Aga Khan University’s neurology section, part of the department of medicine.

The speakers discussed ways to diagnose Alzheimer’s, its treatment, care and side effects of its medication, emphasising the need for creating awareness of the disease.

About the disease burden, they said about 50 million in the world and some 200,000 people in Pakistan were suffering from this disease.

Explaining the disease, experts said Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out simplest tasks, such as moving around, swallowing and feeding yourself.

Citing some studies, experts shared that a slow decline in memory begins as early as age 30. In the case of Alzheimer’s, however, the process is rapid, brain cells break down quickly and nerve connections in the brain are destroyed. As a result, health complications occur due to decline in brain function that led to death.

Highlighting the role of family members in patient management, they said that they needed to be trained to help the patient who became inactive and completely depended on others as the disease entered its last stage.

According to experts, while the exact causes of the disease are not fully understood, risk factors include air pollution, blood pressure, vitamin B12 deficiency, diabetes, persistent lack of sleep, obesity, late sleep, depression and smoking.

The diagnosis could be made with the help of a mini-mental test and a magnetic resonance imaging scan.

The speakers included Dr Sara, Dr Abdul Malik, Dr Arif Harikar, Dr Sajid Hameed, Dr Mohammad Wase, Dr Bushra from Pakistan and an expert from India.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2021

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