A new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital has found that seven healthy habits and lifestyle factors may lower the risk of dementia.
The study followed female participants for two decades, and researchers found that the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 factors could play a role in reducing the risk of dementia.
These 7 factors include being active, eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, controlling blood pressure, managing cholesterol, and having low blood sugar.
The study tested 13,720 female participants with an average age of 54 at the start of the study.
Researchers looked at Medicare data to identify those who had been diagnosed with dementia after 20 years of follow-up. Among the participants, 1,771, or 13%, developed dementia.
For each of the seven health factors, participants were given a score of zero for poor or intermediate health and one point for ideal health, for a total possible score of 7.
The average score was 4.3 at the start of the study and 4.2 10 years later.
After adjusting for factors like age and education, the researchers found that for every increase of one point in the score, a person’s risk of dementia decreased by 6%.
This means that taking steps such as exercising for half an hour a day or keeping blood pressure under control could help reduce the risk of dementia.
The team says that making healthy lifestyle choices in middle age may lead to a decreased risk of dementia later in life.
Since scientists now know that dementia can begin in the brain decades before diagnosis, it’s important that they learn more about how daily habits in middle age can affect the risk of dementia in old age.
A limitation of the study was that researchers were unable to look at how changes in factors such as quitting smoking influenced the risk of dementia later in life.
Nonetheless, the study highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to potentially reduce the risk of dementia in old age.
If you care about brain health, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and older people with smell problems have higher dementia risk.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and flavonoid-rich foods could improve survival in Parkinson’s.
The study was conducted by Pamela Rist et al.
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