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Early choices can help prevent Alzheimer's

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For 33-year-old Max Lugavere playing guitar is more than just a hobby, he does it for his health.

“There’s not a single part of the brain that’s not being used when you’re playing a musical instrument,” said Lugavere. 

He also taught himself video editing for the same reasons. But now he’s involved in a labor of love. Max is documenting his journey, starting with his mother’s disease. Three years ago she began showing signs of dementia.

“This was something that was really noticeable because my mom was very sharp. She ran a business and she raised three kids,” Lugavere said.

Max is a patient of Richard Isaacson, MD, Neurologist and Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine & New York-Presbyterian Hospital where Isaacson sees patients as young as 27.

“Alzheimer’s disease starts in the brain 20 to 30 years before the first symptom of memory loss. And that leaves ample time for people to make very specific, evidence-based, low-risk brain healthy choices,”
Isaacson said.

Like very specific exercise recommendations, at least 150 minutes of mixed cardio and weight training a week. Isaacson tells patients to pay attention to mid-section weight gain, especially mid-life.

“The bigger the belly, the smaller the memory center in the brain,” Isaacson explained.

A Mediterranean-style diet is best, avoid white breads, sugars and processed foods. If you want something sweet, add dark cocoa powder.

Max follows all the prevention recommendations and more. Changes he hopes will pay off with better brain health down the road.

Isaacson says some patients with a family history of Alzheimer’s show “markers” for the disease like a genetic mutation in the way the body processes B vitamins. Isaacson says even if health measures delay onset, instead of preventing the disease it may “buy” patients the time needed for science to find a cure.