There’s more to keeping your brain sharp than crossword puzzles. Preserving your cognitive skills for the long term means adopting a healthy lifestyle — and it doesn’t have to be complicated (really!).
“There are a number of healthy lifestyle habits that can help enhance cognitive function, optimize long-term brain health and greatly decrease the odds of developing dementia,” says Scott Kaiser, MD, director of Geriatric Cognitive Health for the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. (And because many of these behaviors also support your overall health, you’ll reap the benefits from head to toe.)
This seven-day kickstart plan can help. By dedicating one day each week to incorporating a new brain-friendly behavior, you’ll make positive changes quickly without getting overwhelmed. Give it a try — and by the end of the week, you’ll be well on your way to living the gray matter good life……Continue reading..
By: Marygrace Taylor
Injury to the brain can manifest in many ways. Traumatic brain injury, for example received in contact sport, after a fall, or a traffic or work accident, can be associated with both immediate and longer-term problems. Immediate problems may include bleeding within the brain, this may compress the brain tissue or damage its blood supply. Bruising to the brain may occur. Bruising may cause widespread damage to the nerve tracts that can lead to a condition of diffuse axonal injury.
A fractured skull, injury to a particular area, deafness, and concussion are also possible immediate developments. In addition to the site of injury, the opposite side of the brain may be affected, termed a contrecoup injury. Longer-term issues that may develop include posttraumatic stress disorder, and hydrocephalus. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy can develop following multiple head injuries.
Neurodegenerative diseases result in progressive damage to different parts of the brain’s function, and worsen with age. Common examples include dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, alcoholic dementia or vascular dementia; Parkinson’s disease; and other rarer infectious, genetic, or metabolic causes such as Huntington’s disease, motor neuron diseases, HIV dementia, syphilis-related dementia and Wilson’s disease. Neurodegenerative diseases can affect different parts of the brain, and can affect movement, memory, and cognition.
Cerebral atherosclerosis is atherosclerosis that affects the brain. It results from the build-up of plaques formed of cholesterol, in the large arteries of the brain, and can be mild to significant. When significant, arteries can become narrowed enough to reduce blood flow. It contributes to the development of dementia, and has protein similarities to those found in Alzheimer’s disease.
The brain, although protected by the blood–brain barrier, can be affected by infections including viruses, bacteria and fungi. Infection may be of the meninges (meningitis), the brain matter (encephalitis), or within the brain matter (such as a cerebral abscess). Rare prion diseases including Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and its variant, and kuru may also affect the brain.
Brain tumours can be either benign or cancerous. Most malignant tumours arise from another part of the body, most commonly from the lung, breast and skin. Cancers of brain tissue can also occur, and originate from any tissue in and around the brain. Meningioma, cancer of the meninges around the brain, is more common than cancers of brain tissue.
Cancers within the brain may cause symptoms related to their size or position, with symptoms including headache and nausea, or the gradual development of focal symptoms such as gradual difficulty seeing, swallowing, talking, or as a change of mood. Cancers are in general investigated through the use of CT scans and MRI scans. A variety of other tests including blood tests and lumbar puncture may be used to investigate for the cause of the cancer and evaluate the type and stage of the cancer.
The corticosteroid dexamethasone is often given to decrease the swelling of brain tissue around a tumour. Surgery may be considered, however given the complex nature of many tumours or based on tumour stage or type, radiotherapy or chemotherapy may be considered more suitable. Mental disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tourette syndrome, and addiction, are known to relate to the functioning of the brain.
Treatment for mental disorders may include psychotherapy, psychiatry, social intervention and personal recovery work or cognitive behavioural therapy; the underlying issues and associated prognoses vary significantly between individuals. Brain death refers to an irreversible total loss of brain function. This is characterised by coma, loss of reflexes, and apnoea, however, the declaration of brain death varies geographically and is not always accepted. In some countries there is also a defined syndrome of brainstem death.
Declaration of brain death can have profound implications as the declaration, under the principle of medical futility, will be associated with the withdrawal of life support, and as those with brain death often have organs suitable for organ donation. The process is often made more difficult by poor communication with patients’ families.
When brain death is suspected, reversible differential diagnoses such as, electrolyte, neurological and drug-related cognitive suppression need to be excluded. Testing for reflexes can be of help in the decision, as can the absence of response and breathing. Clinical observations, including a total lack of responsiveness, a known diagnosis, and neural imaging evidence, may all play a role in the decision to pronounce brain death.
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