7 Healthy Habits That Prevent Dementia

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Not just one, but seven good habits seem to make a strong shield, significantly reducing the risk of dementia even in people who are genetically at high risk. This is the conclusion of a new study published a few days ago in the online issue of “Neurology“, and is a useful guide to the prevention of dementia, which plagues an estimated 50 million people in the world.

More specifically, these are the seven allies of cardiovascular and brain health, which the scientists of the American Heart Association (AHA) have named “Life’s simple 7”. They could be described as the seven simple rules for a better life. These are the following:

1. Stay active.

2. Follow a good, balanced diet.

3. Lose weight.

4. Say no to cigarettes.

5. Maintain healthy blood pressure.

6. Check your cholesterol.

7. Regulate blood sugar.

These healthy habits have been linked to a lower risk of developing dementia overall, but it remains uncertain whether the same is true for people at high genetic risk. The good news is that even for people at higher genetic risk, the chances of developing dementia are reduced when they lead a healthier lifestyle.

dementia

The study

The study involved 8,823 people of European descent and 2,738 of African descent who had been under the microscope for 30 years. It is important to note that at the beginning of the study the participants had a mean age of 54 years.

All 11,561 were committed to assessing their degree of involvement in the seven key factors mentioned above. How was the score formed? From 0 to 14, with 0 representing the unhealthiest score and 14 the healthiest. Finally, the average score among those of European descent was 8.3, and the average score among those of African descent was 6.6.

It is important to note that the genetic risk for dementia in all individuals was previously calculated, with experts having an indicator the areas of DNA that have also been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.

Participants of European descent, meanwhile, were divided into five groups and those of African descent into three groups, based on genetic analysis scores. More specifically, the high-risk group included individuals who carried at least one copy of the APOE gene variant associated with Alzheimer’s disease, APOEe4.

Thus, of those of European origin, 27.9% had the specific genotype, while in the other group the percentage reached 40.4%.

By the end of the study, 1,603 people of European descent had dementia and 631 people of African descent. In the case of the former, the researchers found that those with high scores on lifestyle factors were at lower risk. In fact, this observation concerned all five groups of genetic risk, regardless of score. In fact, the risk was reduced by 9% for each good grade.

What does this mean?? The odds are reduced by 30% to 43% even for people of medium and high risk with European descent, while the corresponding rates for those of African descent are 6% to 17%. In any case, it is necessary to continue the research, and in fact in a larger sample from different populations, in order to have more reliable estimates. 

The disease

In developed countries, the increase in life expectancy has resulted in the spread of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being more common (70% of all cases). Worldwide, there are now 50 million people living with dementia with experts warning that this number will increase dramatically in the future. Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible and progresses slowly over time. Its symptoms are: memory disorders, speech disorders, loss of orientation in space and time and deterioration of daily functionality. There are also personality changes, often physical discomfort and psychiatric symptoms such as apathy, depression, aggression, irritability, negativity, delirium and hallucinations. It takes an average of 10 years from the onset of symptoms to the final stages of the disease.

So, following the 7 healthy tips, and even adopting them as daily habits, can help reduce the risk of dementia.

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