Boosting Your Brain Function As You Age

*Adapted from The Star news article “Boosting your brain function as you age”, written by Revathi Murugappan.
Read the full article here



The older you are, the higher your risk of stroke,
but nowadays, it is increasingly affecting the young.



Higher risk of stroke to both young and old

The stroke used to be a disease associated with age, but young adults are also starting to be affected due to the rise in metabolic syndrome. This is especially so with the unseen condition of uncontrolled high blood pressure or hypertension.

Young heavy smokers have been known to be struck down by stroke at the tender age of 17.

While it doesn’t kill you immediately, stroke patients present a heavy burden on the healthcare industry and caregivers. This is distressing, says consultant neurologist Associate Professor Dr Hoo Fan Kee.

The adverse impact of stroke

Of all the conditions that can affect our voluntary movement, stroke is one of the common causes of disability.

“In terms of death from a heart attack, the patient dies in front of you, but for stroke, the death rate is 30-40%, but you don’t see patients die in front of you. They may pass on after a few weeks, usually due to complications such as bed/pressure sores and aspiration pneumonia where the food goes through the wrong channel and ends up in the lungs, causing infection,” he says.

He says, “If you get early intervention, the clot-buster drugs (thrombolysis) will help. We also need to screen patients to see who is eligible for mechanical thrombectomy, a type of minimally-invasive procedure to remove a clot from a patient’s artery.”

“The window period for stroke is within six hours, but with artificial intelligence software, we can see if the brain tissue is dead. If it is not fully dead, there is still an opportunity to do mechanical thrombectomy within 24 hours.”

“Treatment has to be started early for better outcomes.”

Urgent need to promote brain health

Young chain-smokers are at high risk of suffering a stroke.

Data shows that, on average, if you are 65 years or more, your brain volume reserve is about 55%; this is down from about three-quarters of your brain or memory volume at the age of 45.

The amount of brain volume you have can spiral downwards quickly with age if you do nothing to promote your brain health.

“There are many diagnostic tools to measure this volume, but when it comes to forgetfulness, it cannot be measured objectively,” says Associate Professor Hoo.

Better brain function with Tocotrienols

Omega-3 fatty acids, coenzyme Q10, and vitamins B and E have long been used to improve brain health. Vitamin E represents a family of compounds that is divided into two subgroups called tocopherols and Tocotrienols. Compared to tocopherols, Tocotrienols are proven to have higher antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They also have a potent cholesterol-lowering property.

In cases of a silent stroke, small bright patches called white matter lesions show up on the brain’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This white matter disease affects the nerves that link various parts of the brain to each other and the spinal cord, resulting in memory problems or slow thought processes, urinary incontinence and slow gait.

As white matter disorders can be mild, the prognosis is more optimistic than for grey matter disorders – most notably the dreaded dementia of Alzheimer’s disease, in which cortical cell bodies, synapses and receptors are destroyed by the disease.

Various studies have been published to show that taking 200mg of Tocotrienols twice a day for two years can reduce white matter disease’s worsening by seven times.

“There is a potential for treating white matter disease. Traditionally, we tell patients to control risk factors such as hypertension and cholesterol. With patients with white matter that is progressive, they can try taking Tocotrienols,” says Associate Professor Hoo.

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