Our expert says:
Hi Susie, thank you for the question.
I agree that with a family history one should view this disease with great concern and try to delay its onset as much as possible.
Ginkgo biloba is a plant extract containing several compounds that may have positive effects on cells within the brain and the body. Ginkgo biloba is thought to have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, to protect cell membranes and to regulate neurotransmitter function. Ginkgo has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and currently is being used in Europe to alleviate cognitive symptoms associated with a number of neurological conditions.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (October 22/29, 1997), Pierre L. Le Bars, M.D., Ph.D., of the New York Institute for Medical Research, and his colleagues observed in some participants a modest improvement in cognition, activities of daily living (such as eating and dressing) and social behavior. The researchers found no measurable difference in overall impairment.
Results from this study show that ginkgo may help some individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, but further research is needed to determine the exact mechanisms by which Ginkgo works in the body. Also, results from this study are considered preliminary because of the low number of participants, about 200 people.
Few side effects are associated with the use of Ginkgo, but it is known to reduce the ability of blood to clot, potentially leading to more serious conditions, such as internal bleeding. This risk may increase if Ginkgo biloba is taken in combination with other blood-thinning drugs, such as aspirin and warfarin.
Other preventative measures you may consider are as follows:
Statins are normally used to lower cholesterol levels, but recent studies have shown that they may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. More studies are being done to determine exactly what role, if any, statins may have in Alzheimer's prevention.
Selective estrogen receptor molecules called raloxifene (Evista) is used to protect against the bone loss associated with osteoporosis. It also appears to lower the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, a memory disorder that often precedes Alzheimer's.
Vitamin E has been linked to improvements in cognitive abilities, and its potential effect on Alzheimer's is being studied.
Maintaining mental fitness may delay onset of dementia. Some researchers believe that lifelong mental exercise and learning may promote the growth of additional synapses, the connections between neurons, and delay the onset of dementia. Other researchers argue that advanced education gives a person more experience with the types of memory and thinking tests used to measure dementia. This advanced level of education simply may help some people "cover up" their condition until later.
Following from the above, I believe it is a good idea to have your clotting factors checked from time to time, with your family doctor. By keeping an eye out on the bleeding time you may prevent other serious consequences.
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal
advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.