New research that has followed participants for two decades has found that seven healthy habits and lifestyle factors may play a role in reducing dementia risk. The preliminary study published on February 27, 2023 will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 75e The annual meeting will be held in person in Boston and live online April 22-27, 2023.
The seven factors for heart and brain health, known as the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7, are: Be active, eat better, maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke, maintain healthy blood pressure, control cholesterol and have low blood sugar.
“Since we now know that dementia can start in the brain decades before diagnosis, it’s important that we learn more about how your habits in middle age may affect your risk of dementia in old age,” said Pamela Rist, ScD, of Brigham and Women’s. Boston Hospital, Massachusetts, and Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. “The good news is that making healthy lifestyle choices in middle age can lead to a lower risk of dementia later in life.”
The American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 is a set of health goals designed to help people improve their overall health and reduce their risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases. . These seven goals include:
- Manage your blood pressure: Keeping your blood pressure within a healthy range can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Control cholesterol: High blood cholesterol levels can increase your risk of heart disease.
- Lower blood sugar: High blood sugar can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.
- Be active: Regular physical activity can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of chronic disease.
- Eat better: Healthy eating can reduce your risk of chronic disease and improve your overall health.
- Lose weight: Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of chronic disease and improve your overall health.
- Quit smoking: Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases.
By focusing on these seven goals, individuals can make positive lifestyle changes that can lead to better health outcomes and a lower risk of chronic disease.
The study involved 13,720 participants with an average age of 54 at the start of the study.
After 20 years of follow-up, the researchers looked at Medicare data to identify those who had been diagnosed with dementia.
Of the participants, 1,771, or 13%, developed dementia.
For each of the seven health factors, participants received a score of zero for poor or intermediate health and one point for ideal health, for a possible total score of 7. The average score was 4.3 at the start of the study. study and 4.2 10 years later.
After adjusting for factors such as age and education, the researchers found that for every one-point increase in score, a participant’s risk of dementia decreased by 6%.
“It can be empowering for people to know that by taking steps like exercising for half an hour a day or keeping their blood pressure under control, they can reduce their risk of dementia,” Rist added.
A limitation of the study was that the researchers were unable to examine how changes in factors such as smoking cessation influenced dementia risk later in life.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.