Risk of Dementia Reduced By Healthy Lifestyle

Dementia is one of the more misunderstood conditions in modern medicine. It is technically a broad term that is used to describe a variety of symptoms which are associated with a decline in memory, thinking or communication skills severe enough to disrupt an individual’s daily activities.

Many confuse dementia with Alzheimer’s disease, and while it accounts for 60 to 80 percent of the cases, Alzheimer’s is merely one of the many types of dementia, albeit the most common. Other types of dementia include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, Mixed dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

There are about 47.5 million dementia sufferers worldwide and there is a new case of dementia diagnosed every 4 seconds.

Study Reveals Possible Link Between Healthy Lifestyle and Decreased Risk For Dementia

Living a healthy lifestyle may help offset a person’s genetic risk of dementia, according to new research. The study was led by the University of Exeter — simultaneously published today in JAMA and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2019 in Los Angeles.

The research found that the risk of dementia was 32 per cent lower in people with a high genetic risk if they had followed a healthy lifestyle, compared to those who had an unhealthy lifestyle. Participants with high genetic risk and an unfavourable lifestyle were almost three times more likely to develop dementia compared to those with a low genetic risk and favourable lifestyle.

196,383 adults of European ancestry all aged 60 and above were used for this study. The team grouped the participants into those with high, intermediate and low genetic risk for dementia. After following up with them for a period of eight years, the researchers identified 1,769 of the participants who eventually developed dementia.

The researchers were able to assess the genetic risk of each individual by looking at previously published data and identified all known genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Each genetic risk factor was weighted according to the strength of its association with Alzheimer’s disease.

To assess lifestyle, the researchers grouped participants into favourable, intermediate and unfavourable categories based on their self-reported diet, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption. The researchers considered no current smoking, regular physical activity, healthy diet and moderate alcohol consumption as healthy behaviours.

The results of the study formed the basis of their conclusion that living a healthy lifestyle was associated with a reduced dementia risk across all genetic risk groups.

In their comments, the researchers noted, “some people believe it’s inevitable they’ll develop dementia because of their genetics. However it appears that you may be able to substantially reduce your dementia risk by living a healthy lifestyle.”

Healthy Living Tips For Everyone

Unfortunately there is no current drug that slows, stops or cures most of the types of progressive dementias, such as Alzheimer’s. There are however some treatments that help temporarily alleviate some of the symptoms. Non-drug therapies may also provide some temporary relief from some of the symptoms of dementia.
There are various healthy living tips which if you are able to adhere to will greatly increase your chances of living a disease free life – unless for genetic and other factors that may be beyond your control. Some of these include :

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