A major study revealed that one in three dementia patients could have prevented developing the condition if they had taken more care of their brains throughout life. The research highlights nine key factors that up the risk of the disease.
The study was published this week in the journal Lancet and was first unveiled at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Europe.
Recent estimates show that 131 million people may have dementia by 2050. Currently, there are 47 million dementia patients worldwide.
The nine factors include smoking (boosts the risk of dementia by 5%), inactivity (3%), hypertension (2%), hearing loss (9%), depressions (4%), failing to get higher education (8%), social isolation (2%), diabetes (1%), and obesity (1%).
All these risk factors combined boost the risk of Alzheimer’s and its more severe form, dementia, by 35%. The rest of 65% cannot be changed.
Lead author Prof Gill Livingston explained that dementia is diagnosed when the patient is old but changes in the brain start years before. Acting early can greatly improve the lives of people with dementia and their caretakers.
The latest report was the work of two dozen international experts, who agree that having a lifestyle that strengthens the brain’s networks can prevent brain damage later in life.
Small Changes Can Make A Big Difference
People with a family history of dementia should make some changes to their lifestyles as soon as possible. One major step would be to cut back on processed foods until complete elimination.
Another lifestyle change would be higher water consumption and limiting coffee consumption. More physical activity is also a good idea. One study participant who made these changes said she felt mentally sharper and healthier from day one, but she finds it hard to stay on track.
“I just think the small changes can make such a big difference,”
the participant said.
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