The seven lifestyle habits in middle age have been shown to reduce dementia

Adopting seven healthy habits in middle age significantly reduces the risk of dementia, a study has found.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, followed nearly 14,000 women in their 50s for two decades.

Participants were asked about seven lifestyle factors linked to dementia and followed up for a diagnosis of the disease. Individually, the seven factors reduced the risk by about 6%.

Since dementia begins in the brain years before diagnosis, the scientists said it’s likely that middle-aged habits affect patients’ risk.

The chart above shows the seven healthy habits that can reduce the risk of dementia in middle age according to a new study. The factors are being active (top left), healthy eating (top center), maintaining a healthy diet (top right), not smoking (boxed), maintaining normal blood pressure (bottom left ), controlling cholesterol levels (bottom center) and having lower blood sugar levels (bottom right)

The seven factors are: being active, having a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, having normal blood pressure, controlling cholesterol levels and having lower blood sugar.

Dr Pamela Rist, an assistant professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital who led the research, said: ‘It can be empowering for people to know that by taking steps such as exercising for half an hour a day or keep their blood pressure under control, they can reduce their risk of dementia.

She added: “Since we now know that dementia can start in the brain decades before diagnosis, it is important that we learn more about how your habits in middle age can affect your risk of dementia at a later date. advanced age.

“The good news is that making healthy lifestyle choices in middle age can lead to a lower risk of dementia later in life.”

In the study, scientists followed 13,720 women who were on average 54 years old at the start of the article.

After two decades, 1,771 participants – or 13% – had developed dementia.

For each of the seven health factors, people were given a score of zero and one, leading to a possible total score of seven.

The average score was 4.3 at the start of the study and 4.2 a decade later.

After adjusting for factors such as age and education, the researchers found that for every one-point increase in score, a person’s risk of dementia decreased by 6%.

Richard Oakley, associate director of research at the UK charity Alzheimer’s Society, who was not involved in the study, said: “Although aging is the greatest risk factor in the development of dementia, this research has shown once again that there are things people can do to reduce their risk.

“While several risk factors like age and genetics are beyond our control, this preliminary study supports existing evidence that lifestyle factors play a role in dementia risk.”

The women were recruited for the study between 1992 and 1994 and were followed until 2018.

The study is to be presented in April at the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology to be held in Boston.

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Scientists have known for years that smoking, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels increase the risk of dementia.

All of these factors increase inflammation levels and impede blood flow to the brain.

Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight can also be protective because they reduce stress and inflammation levels, helping to stave off a dangerous buildup of toxic chemicals in the brain.

The scientists did not take into account the impact of other lifestyle factors on dementia risk, such as sleeping less than the bare minimum of seven hours a night.

Dementia rates are rising in the United States, with estimates suggesting the number of patients could rise from 7 million to 12 million by 2040.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly what’s driving this increase, but behind it could be people living longer as well as higher rates of obesity and sedentary lifestyles.

The new study was supported by the US National Institutes of Health.

Dementia is an umbrella term for cognitive decline, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common form.

Scientists aren’t clear on the cause, but higher levels of inflammation and protein buildup in the brain have been linked to the condition.

Last week, experts at University College London (UCL) said staying active throughout adulthood could help stave off dementia.

Their long-term study found that people who exercise as they age are more likely to have good brain health than those who engage in an activity for shorter periods of time and then quit.

However, even exercising in your 60s is better than doing nothing at all for improving cognitive function, research shows.

More than 55 million people worldwide had dementia in 2020.

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