Tag Archives: Lifestyle

Researchers have the first conclusive proof that changes to lifestyle among the over-60s can slow mental decline – raising the prospects of dementia prevention programmes that cut your risk of the disease.

Findings from a two-year study of more than 1,200 60 to 77-year-olds in Finland, published in The Lancet medical journal, reveal that a group who received thorough advice about diet, regular exercise sessions, brain training and health check-ups performed better in cognitive tests than a group who received only the standard medical advice.

The results are significant, as it is believed to be the first randomised and controlled trial to conclusively demonstrate that keeping the body healthy in later life also benefits the brain. The participants will now be followed up over seven years to see if those who received the intensive healthcare intervention are less likely to develop dementia.

Overall scores in mental tests after two years were 25 per cent better in the group who received the intensive health programme. In particular areas they were even more striking. Scores for executive functioning – the brain’s ability to organise thought processes – were 83 per cent higher in the intervention group, while mental processing speeds were 150 per cent higher. All participants in the trial were judged to have a high risk of dementia at the start.

The study’s lead investigator is Miia Kivipelto of the Karolinska Instituet, Sweden, who is also the coordinator of the JPND-supported MIND-AD project which is developing multinational strategies for multi-modal preventive trials for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Source:  The Independent

On 17 September, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) released its annual World Alzheimer Report, this year on the topic of “Dementia and Risk Reduction: An analysis of protective and modifiable factors”.

With predictions of a coming global avalanche of dementia cases, researchers are turning their attention to prevention strategies. Based on current data, at least four lifestyle factors robustly affect dementia risk, according to the World Alzheimer Report 2014.

Researchers led by Martin Prince at King’s College London analyzed previous studies that examined the effects of developmental, psychological, lifestyle, and cardiovascular factors on dementia risk. They found that diabetes heightened risk by 50 percent, while smoking increased the odds of Alzheimer’s disease by the same amount. Hypertension in midlife pumped up the risk for vascular dementia by 60 percent, while education lowered dementia risk by about 40 percent. Factors such as depression and obesity also appeared to inflate risk, while physical activity and cognitive stimulation seemed to lower it, but existing data are not strong enough to draw firm conclusions about those factors, the report noted.

The findings belie the report from a 2010 National Institutes of Health State-of-the-Science panel, which concluded that insufficient evidence existed to endorse any health intervention for lowering Alzheimer’s risk. The World Alzheimer Report argues that, “There is persuasive evidence that the dementia risk for populations can be modified through reduction in tobacco use and better control and detection for hypertension and diabetes, as well as cardiovascular risk factors.”

The findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that improving heart health and maintaining an active lifestyle and sensible diet wards off dementia.

Researchers attribute recent drops in dementia incidence in developed countries to higher education levels and better cardiovascular care.