Caring For Your Brain Health

  • Smita Patel, DO, Director of NorthShore University HealthSystem's Center for Brain HealthJonathan Hillenbrand

    Smita Patel, DO, Director of NorthShore University HealthSystem's Center for Brain HealthJonathan Hillenbrand

Smita Patel, DO
Updated 7/11/2018 8:00 AM

What is the focus, mission or goals for the Center for Brain Health?

Launched in June 2015, the vision for the Center for Brain Health is to create a preeminent center in Chicagoland, to meet the needs of individuals at increased risk for neurodegenerative diseases, and to reduce the burden of those diseases in society, and the mission of the Center for Brain Health is to preserve and improve brain health by preventing neurodegenerative diseases.

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What services are offered?

• Genetic and non-genetic annual assessments for risks associated with neurodegenerative diseases

• Screening and annual surveillance for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, or Parkinson's.

• Medical therapies to reduce risks for neurodegeneration

• Dietary therapies to reduce risks for neurodegeneration

• Integrative Medicine therapies to reduce risks for neurodegeneration.

• Annual counsel with a dedicated brain health neurologist devoted to reducing risks and adopting protective lifestyle factors.

Will my insurance pay for this?

Every insurance company is different although we have had insurance reimburse for these office visits in general.

Who are the patients that visit the Center for Brain Health? Anyone 18 and older who has a concern for their cognitive health or would like to preserve their cognitive health is welcome at the Center for Brain Health, especially those individuals at increased risk due to family history and/or the presence of risk factors as listed on our Brain Health Quiz.


What are the risk factors? Age, family history, presence of the APOE e4 genetic variant, heart problems, stroke, diabetes, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, low educational attainment, early menopause, concussion, depression, sleep problems, infectious and inflammatory conditions, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and many others.

Why are women more than twice as likely than men to develop Alzheimer's disease? One possible explanation is that women tend to live longer than men and age is Alzheimer's strongest risk factor. Other reasons why women are bearing the Alzheimer's burden are currently under study; it may have something to do with loss of estrogen after menopause, and may have to do with the gender gap in education and career, which was wider for our oldest generations than it is today.

What can be done for people who carry the APOE gene risk variant? Active monitoring for symptoms along with annual assessment for deficiencies in vitamins, managing medical conditions, identification and reduction of risks and engagement in lifestyle factors shown to reduce risk. Research shows that people who carry APOE e4 stand to benefit the most from reduction of risk and lifestyle modification.

What are you doing in your own life to protect your brain health? I try to practice what I preach: eat healthy, exercise, reduce stress. Stress reduction is something I need to work more on, so I've started a meditation practice in the evening before going to bed.

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