Posted on Jul 20, 2019, 4 p.m.
Scientists from the University of Exeter believe it may be possible to avoid developing dementia, and there are 5 ways that can help to reduce the risk, findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
As published in the journal JAMA living a healthy lifestyle may help reduce the risk of dementia even if you have a genetic risk; risk of dementia in those with a higher genetic risk who followed a healthy lifestyle were found to be at 32% lower risk than those with an unhealthy lifestyle.
Data was studied from 196,383 adults of European ancestry who were 60+ years old; 1,769 cases of dementia were identified over an 8 years follow up period; those with high genetic risk and an unhealthy lifestyle were found to be almost 3 times more likely to develop dementia.
“This research delivers a really important message that undermines a fatalistic view of dementia,” said co-lead author David Llewellyn. “Some people believe it’s inevitable they’ll develop dementia because of their genetics.” This research, however, says that may not be the case.
Four main signs of a healthy lifestyle were examined and compared to an unhealthy lifestyle: Those more likely to develop dementia reported eating an unhealthy diet that was high in sugar and salt, smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol, and were largely sedentary not engaging in regular physical activity.
“Drinking at least one artificially sweetened beverage daily was associated with almost three times the risk of developing stroke or dementia compared to those who drank artificially sweetened beverages less than once a week,” according to the study, published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
An association was found between dementia and exposure to anticholinergic drugs, especially antipsychotics, antidepressants, anti-epilepsy drugs, bladder antimuscarinics, and anti-Parkinson drugs according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Data from 284,343 participants aged 55+ was analyzed in another study which found close to 50% increase odds of developing dementia linked to exposure to more than 1,095 daily doses of anticholinergics over 10 years, “equivalent to three years’ daily use of a single strong anticholinergic medication at the minimum effective dose recommended for older people.”
“We found greater increases in risk associated with people diagnosed with dementia before the age of 80, which indicates that anticholinergic drugs should be prescribed with caution in middle-aged and older people,” the researchers wrote.
In 2010 the yearly dementia attributable societal cost per person was $41,689-$56,290, costs included nursing home care, out of pocket spending, home care, and Medicare depending on calculation, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
With the aging population and resulting oncoming Silver Tsunami the number of people affected by dementia is projected to steadily increase along with the associated costs, making it important to find ways to treat it. Prevention will always be better than a cure, making simple lifestyle changes now can help to avoid developing dementia. Living a healthy lifestyle is important this includes adopting positive mindset, getting enough sleep, stress management, being socially and physically active, and following a balanced healthy diet, all of which are science backed to provide health benefits.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.