Dementia is not just a part of ageing, as many would believe, but can be affected by your lifestyle in younger years. New research found seven key habits to start today to help lower your risk
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There’s no certain way to prevent all types of dementia, as researchers are still investigating how the condition develops.
However, there’s good evidence that a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of developing dementia when you’re older.
Seven healthy habits and lifestyle factors may play a role in lowering the risk of dementia in people with the highest genetic risk.
This is according to new research published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The long-term study looked at 8,823 people with European ancestry and 2,378 with African ancestry.
The average age of participants was 54 and they were followed for 30 years.
Researchers calculated genetic risk scores at the start of the study to determine the highest risk for dementia.
By the end of the study, 1,603 people with European ancestry developed dementia and 631 people with African ancestry developed dementia.
Researchers were then able to analyze key lifestyle habits among the group determining how someone can reduce their risk of developing dementia.
Healthy habits to cut dementia risk
The seven cardiovascular and brain health factors, known as the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7, are:
- Being active
- Eating better
- Losing weight
- Not smoking
- Maintaining a healthy blood pressure
- Controlling cholesterol
- Reducing blood sugar
“These healthy habits in the Life’s Simple 7 have been linked to a lower risk of dementia overall, but it is uncertain whether the same applies to people with a high genetic risk,” said study author Dr Adrienne Tin, of the University of Mississippi Medical. Center in Jackson.
“The good news is that even for people who are at the highest genetic risk, living by this same healthier lifestyle are likely to have a lower risk of dementia.”
Key points from previous research relating to lifestyle habits and dementia risk include:
- Diets high in saturated and trans fats have been shown to increase cognitive decline and the risk of developing dementia
- Smokers have a 45% higher risk of getting dementia than non-smokers, warns the World Health Organization
- High blood pressure, particularly in middle age, significantly increases the risk of dementia.