By Thomas Cranmer
In December 2018, Republicans and Democrats in Congress came together almost unanimously to pass a significant health care bill: Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act. The media mostly ignored this important bipartisan step, but it showed how politicians can and have worked together.
The bill provides annual appropriations totaling $37 million through 2025 for promoting early detection and diagnosis of dementia, reducing risks for patients and caregivers and preventing avoidable hospitalization. According to Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General, “Alzheimer’s is the most under-recognized threat to public health in the 21st Century.”
We pointed out to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in testimony last year that given the current state of medicine, “Half of you are likely to have Alzheimer’s by age 90.”
In a presentation titled “Case Study: The Healthy Brain Initiative,” Meghan Fadel of the New York State Department of Health noted the following:
- Early and accurate diagnosis could save up to $7.9 trillion
- In 2018 Alzheimer’s with other dementia will cost the nation $277 billion
- 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s
Politicians tend to fund major government projects like the BOLD Act, but they often forget the basic importance of individuals and families taking initiative to mitigate the impact of diseases. “Brain health is directly related to good nutrition and physical activity, which also reduces the prevalence of chronic disease and diabetes,” according to Sandra Hentges, bureau chief for cancer and chronic disease control at Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services.
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) can have many causes, including genetic, especially having the ApoE4 gene. The Alzheimer’s Foundation summarizes some of the other causes:
We know that a poor diet high in processed foods and containing high levels of sugar can predispose an individual to diabetes, heart disease, obesity and now Alzheimer’s disease. We know that insulin resistance is associated with diabetes and with AD and that drugs that combat diabetes are being studied as treatments for AD. We know that individuals with diabetes have a higher risk for AD. We also know that sugar is suspected to be the ultimate culprit in nerve and blood vessel damage and that at least some researchers consider sugar to be both a toxin and a drug. While more research needs to be done, it is getting clearer that indeed AD can justifiably be considered to be caused by insulin resistance in the brain and a form of diabetes that primarily affects the brain and its function.
MDVIP, a network of 900 primary care physicians serving 300,000 patients, warns the general public: “Not exercising is worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease.”
We all need to make a serious effort to stay healthy and fit. Ask your medical doctors, including eye doctors, for annual wellness exams and advice.
Thomas Cranmer is first vice president of the Fairfax County Taxpayer’s Alliance (FCTA). Learn more at FCTA.org.
Image credit: Pixabay