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Weill Cornell Medicine Multiple Sclerosis Center

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Decreasing risk of cognitive decline

Cognitive changes occur in patients with multiple sclerosis. They also occur in all of us as we age. Aging results in some neuronal loss but patients with prior brain insults from neurodegenerative diseases lose neurons at a faster rate especially in certain brain regions.

Patients ask about medications to prevent and treat cognitive decline. All the recent news reiterated that we still do not have great treatments for alzheimer’s or understand what causes it.

We know we need to prevent brain injury so you need to keep down new multiple sclerosis lesions and take disease modifying medications.

 We need to also prevent stroke , vascular disease with BP and cholesterol medications if appropriate.

The studies piblised in the March issue of Neurology emphasized that exercise and cognitive activity in midlife decreased dementia risk in later life and decreased risk of brain atrophy.

They followed 800 women mean age 47 yr for 44 yrs. Both cognitive and physical activity decreased risk of dementia. Cognitive activity decreased Alzheimer’s and mixed dementia and physical activity, both mixed and vascular.

This study was not specific for multiple sclerosis patients but is same information I tell patients. We need to keep down brain injury. Exercise and staying cognitively active are important modalities to slow progression of neuronal loss and cognitive decline for all people. Start early and keep it up!!

Nancy Nealon MD

Weill Cornell Medicine Multiple Sclerosis Center 1305 York Ave., Second Floor New York, NY 10021