Salzburg, 13th June 2017.
On Friday 9th June, the renowned Alzheimer’s researcher Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c Konrad Beyreuther presented the latest findings of Alzheimer’s disease research in Vienna. Together with a group of experts, he discussed topics such as risk factors, prevention and therapy. The event was for doctors and therapists and took place thanks to the initiative of the Austrian micronutrient company Biogena: “The health of people is our focal point. This is why we want to raise awareness for such diseases and countermeasures”, says manager Roman Huber. Around 250 guests took part in the event.
Founding director of the Netzwerk AlternsfoRschung (NAR) at the University of Heidelberg, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Konrad Beyreuther was key speaker in the top-class expert round in the Novomatic Forum in Vienna. Already since the 1980s, he has dedicated himself to researching Alzheimer’s and by finding the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP), he discovered a possible origin of the disease. With his discovery, he still influences todays current worldwide Alzheimer’s research.
On 9th June, together with Konrad Beyreuther discussed Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ludwig Aigner, psychotherapist Antonia Croy, Prof.Dr.med. Hans Förstl and Prof. Dr.med. Jörg Spitz in a panel discussion about risk factors, prevention and therapy of Alzheimer’s disease.
Current findings of Alzheimer’s research – core information of the talk
According to the latest prognoses, about 135 million people will be suffering from dementia, mainly Alzheimer’s in 2050 worldwide. In Austria, there are currently approximately 130.000 people affected by dementia. These numbers might lead to the impression that in the future, the social and financial burdening by this disease will become intolerable. But facts show that Western Europe and the USA will not have to deal with an epidemic of dementia.
Reduction of cardiac diseases and rising education promote decrease
Due to different factors, the number of age-related new dementia diseases is decreasing constantly for 40 years: “Responsible for this might be the ‘cardio-vascular revolution’”, explains Beyreuther. This means that there are less cardiac and coronary diseases, which in turn leads automatically to a lowered risk for Alzheimer’s – because, according to Beyreuther, a healthy heart leads to a good supply in a functioning brain.
Moreover, explains Beyreuther: “Also the rising level of education, also called ‘cognitive revolution’ is responsible for the decrease. In Alzheimer’s disease, nerve contacts and nerve cells in the brain die, a higher ration of synapses is an important prevention factor. With active cognitive training, new nerve cells grow – Beyreuther calls this process also “cognitive reserve”.
A lack of exercise increases the risk by 80 percent
But what causes Alzheimer’s? Why does it develop? According to Beyreuther, genetic factors are responsible for 50 percent of the infection risk. 30 percent are related to environmental factors, such as lack of exercise, depression, high blood pressure in the middle age, smoking, lack of cognitive stimuli and diabetes. Bodily inactivity increases the risk to attract dementia by more than 80 percent.
Healthy lifestyle against Alzheimer’s – positive development until 2025
According to current prognoses, around 135 million people will be suffering from dementia, mainly Alzheimer’s disease, in 2050. In Austria, there are currently approximately 130.000 people suffering from dementia. These numbers might lead to the impression that in the future, the social and financial burdening by this disease will become intolerable. But the facts presented by Konrad Beyreuther prove that an epidemic of dementia can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle. According to his opinion, we will counteract Alzheimer’s disease with adequate measures until 2025: The main risk factors such as lack of exercise, depression, high blood pressure and adiposity in middle age, smoking, lack of cognitive stimuli can be minimised and thus the infection risk reduced. “Bodily inactivity increases the risk by 80 percent. Those who exercise, can exclude a high-risk factor”, emphasized Beyreuther in his talk.
This effective Alzheimer’s prevention has been shown through the first randomised, controlled FINGER Studie: the participants were men and women between 60 and 70 years of age in Scandinavia. According to this study, preventative measures are recommendable for people of all ages. Changes in lifestyle can even be helpful for people who show first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Since the protein depositions, also called Amyloid Plaques, start already 30 years before the first symptoms appear, it is, according to Beyreuther, ideal to begin prevention from the 30th or 40th year of age.
Aducanumab vaccination as effective therapy
Alzheimer’s cannot be healed yet, there is no cure. Research shows that an effective therapy requires the removal of the Amyloid Plaques and a slow-down of the cognitive degradation. Currently, researchers are working on an immune therapy with the vaccine Aducanumab, directed against Beta-Amyloid depositions and that should protract the disease. First results show that the vaccine has positive effects on the cognitive performance of the participants.
Emotions and social contacts have positive effects
One point was especially emphasized by Konrad Beyreuther and his panel colleagues: once the disease develops, it is important to accept it and let loose in time. This is the only way to keep the maximum possible quality of life for patients and their relatives. Social contacts and emotions can be triggers for memories and have a positive effect, even if the patient is already in an advanced stage of the disease.
More health-awareness as Biogena’s goal
Konrad Beyreuther emphasised in his talk that we can effectively prevent Alzheimer’s until 2025 through adequate measures. Roman Huber, organiser and manager of the Biogena Akademie shares this opinion: “We can all be affected by Alzheimer’s. For Biogena, health and wellbeing are the main focus and this is why we want to raise awareness for topics such as Alzheimer’s and to help people take preventive measures, says Roman Huber.
Moreover, it is important for the company, to spread health knowledge among different target groups – from experts to non-medically trained people who are interested: We want to share the knowledge that our Scientific Team (consisting of 15 people) together with external insitutions and universities collects with our consumers. Because where there is knowledge, new and great things grow”, explains Alexandra Herlbauer, manager at Biogena. In 2016, the Biogena Akademie organised 225 event impulses for doctors, partners and consumers. For 2017, Biogena plans on organising 280 events.
Information about the events for doctors and therapists on Biogena Akademie.
Information about events for consumers in the Biogena Club Bereich.
Here you see the video Alzheimer - Leben gegen das Vergessen.
Rainer Tschop | Member of the management team
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