Healthier living can help cut dementia by a third, say experts

20 July, 2017, 10:05 | Author: Hope Soto
  • Dementia is preventable One in three cases could be avoided

It highlights the dangers, including obesity, smoking and high blood pressure, which need to be avoided to lower the threat by more than a third.

The researchers said maintaining good hearing between the ages of 45 and 65 reduces the number of cases by 9 per cent.

Other factors contributing to the risk include depression (4 per cent), physical inactivity (3 per cent), social isolation (2 per cent), high blood pressure (2 per cent), obesity (1 per cent) and type 2 diabetes (1 per cent).

The LancetCommission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care aimed to review the best available evidence and produce recommendations on how to best manage, or even prevent, the dementia epidemic. Global Positioning System trackers can stop patients getting lost and monitors in the home can detect falls and tell carers if the phone or TV is being used.

For the first time, researchers modelled the impact of risk factors at all stages of life, and quantifies the potential contribution of hearing loss and social isolation as risk factors for dementia. But Professor Clive Ballard, co-author of the Lancet Commission report, said: 'Advances in technology won't work unless you also have that human element'.

Ronald C. Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, who presented that report Wednesday at the conference, said large trials that are now ongoing or forthcoming could provide more evidence to support the effects of lifestyle intervention.

Tackling all nine factors would together see 35 per cent fewer cases.

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They concluded: "Dementia is not an inevitable effect of ageing and the Commission identifies nine potentially modifiable health and lifestyle factors from different phases of life that, if eliminated, might prevent dementia". In contrast, finding a way to target the major genetic risk factor - the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) ε4 allele - would prevent only 7% of cases.

'We've already shown over the last decade that treating medical risks in mid-life better does make a difference.

"There are a lot of things that individuals can do, and there are a lot of things that public health and policy can do, to reduce the numbers of people developing dementia", said Gill Livingston, professor of psychiatry of older people at University College London and a co-author of the report.

Hearing loss is believed to weaken cognitive reserve by causing biological changes or leading to social isolation and depression, both strongly linked to dementia.

If all these risk factors were fully eliminated, the experts said, one in three cases of dementia worldwide could be prevented.

Stopping smoking could reduce the number of cases by 5 per cent, it said.

Dr Doug Brown, director of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: 'We all need to be aware of the risks and start making positive lifestyle changes.' The report will be presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in London today.

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