ALZHEIMER’S disease already affects almost 250,000 Australians.
However, researchers now fear this could just be the tip of the iceberg.
Brain scans reveal almost one third of Australians aged more than 60 have preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, putting them at a greater risk of developing the deadly disease.
This research is a result of the Australian Imaging Biomarkers Lifestyle Study of Ageing, the largest of its kind in the world, which aims to develop an early diagnosis technique for the disease.
Professor Ralph Martins, who was instrumental in establishing the study 10 years ago, will examine the quest for an effective treatment at a free public lecture at ECU Joondalup on July 15.
“Alzheimer’s disease is a massive, and growing, global health challenge. To date all clinical trials of treatments have failed, which has been largely attributed to the interventions being undertaken too late in the disease process when the brain is already severely damaged,” Professor Martins said.
“This is why the study was established, so we can try to identify a way to diagnose the disease early in its progression when treatment can be more effective.”
The study has also allowed researchers to examine the role lifestyle factors play in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
“We have been able to prove that both dietary patterns and exercise levels play an important role in modifying the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease,” Professor Martins said.
“By better understanding how these lifestyle factors influence the risk of Alzheimer’s disease we will hopefully be able to develop effective means of preventing or slowing the disease.”