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Inflammation and Dementia: Is There a Link?

Controlling Inflammation to Prevent Dementia

Many studies have suggested that inflammation may contribute to Alzheimer's disease. Moreover, autopsies of people who died with Alzheimer's have shown widespread inflammation in the brain that appeared to be caused by the accumulation of beta amyloid. Another study found that men with high levels of C-reactive protein, a general marker of inflammation, had a significantly increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and other kinds of dementia.
Early research has indicated that long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) -- ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) naproxen (Aleve®, Naprosyn®, Anaprox®, Naprelan®), and similar drugs -- may prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers are not sure how these drugs may prevent dementia, but some or all of the effects may be due to reduced inflammation. A 2003 study showed that these drugs also bind to amyloid plaques and may help to dissolve them and prevent formation of new plaques.
Before considering NSAIDs for dementia prevention, talk to your healthcare provider. These medicines do have possible side effects, especially when used long-term. For example, a large clinical trial conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of two NSAIDs (naproxen and celecoxib) to prevent Alzheimer's disease was stopped in late 2004 because of an increase in stroke and heart attack in people taking naproxen. An unrelated study linked celecoxib (Celebrex®) and other NSAIDs to an increased risk of heart attack.
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