Health Care

Healthier living could reduce worldwide dementia by a third, report says

Healthier living could reduce worldwide dementia by a third, report says”

"But there are easier wins, particularly cardiovascular factors like lowering blood pressure and smoking cessation", he said.

The senior dementia experts also urged doctors to crack down on high blood pressure which could help prevent one in 50 dementia cases.

There are believed to be up to 1 million Britons living with the condition.

The report authors highlighted that not completing secondary education in early life may raise dementia risk by reducing cognitive reserve - a resilience to cognitive decline caused by the brain strengthening its networks and therefore continuing functioning in later life despite damage.

Stopping smoking, treating depression, exercising, socialising and managing diabetes in old age could reduce the incidence by a further 15 per cent. Social isolation, later life diabetes, midlife high blood pressure, midlife obesity and lack of exercise in later life also contributed to potentially avoidable cases of dementia, the report notes.

Gadgets and apps have already been introduced into dementia care.

"The message is that conditions like dementia are not immutable and are substantially modifiable by the environment", said Lon Schneider, professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California and a co-author of the Lancet report.

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.

Just a 1 per cent reduction in cases would mean 8,500 fewer Britons developing dementia.

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.

In contrast, the biggest genetic risk is responsible for around 7 per cent of cases, or around 60,000 British patients.

They concluded: "Dementia is not an inevitable outcome of ageing and the Commission identifies nine potentially modifiable health and lifestyle factors from different phases of life that, if eliminated, might prevent dementia".

University College London Professor Gill Livingston was one of 24 global experts commissioned by The Lancet Medical Journal to conduct a study, which found eating and drinking well, avoiding cigarettes and education among the factors at play, AAP reports.

"A broader approach to prevention of dementia which reflects these changing risk factors will benefit our ageing societies and help to prevent the rising number of dementia cases". Debate also exists around whether factors such as depression and social isolation drive an increased risk of dementia, or whether changes in the brain that lead to dementia could be behind such issues.

Stopping smoking reduces exposure to neurotoxins and improves heart health which, in turn, affects brain health, they said.

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