Dementia is difficult to prevent because the cause is often unknown. People with dementia caused by a stroke, on the other hand, may be able to avoid future declines by lowering their risk of heart disease and stroke. Although age is the most significant risk factor for dementia, data suggests that there are things you can do to minimize your own risk. These include staying active, eating healthy, and mentally exercising.
Seven healthy habits and lifestyle factors may play a role in lowering the risk of dementia in people with the highest genetic risk, according to research published in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The seven cardiovascular and brain health aspects are known as the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7: getting active, eating well, losing weight, avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy blood pressure, regulating cholesterol, and lowering blood sugar.
“These good habits in the Life’s Simple 7 have been related to a lower risk of dementia generally, but it is unclear whether the same applies to persons with a high hereditary risk,” said study author Adrienne Tin, PhD, of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. “The good news is that even persons with the highest genetic risk, who follow this healthy lifestyle, are likely to have a lower chance of dementia.”
These good habits in the Life’s Simple 7 have been related to a lower risk of dementia generally, but it is unclear whether the same applies to persons with a high hereditary risk. The good news is that even persons with the highest genetic risk, who follow this healthy lifestyle, are likely to have a lower chance of dementia.Adrienne Tin
The study followed 8,823 persons with European heritage and 2,738 people with African ancestry over 30 years. At the start of the trial, people were an average of 54 years old. Participants in the study reported their levels in each of the seven health indicators. Total scores varied from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most unhealthy score and 14 reflecting the most healthy score. The average score for individuals with European heritage was 8.3, whereas the average score for those with African ancestry was 6.6.
Researchers established genetic risk scores at the outset of the trial using Alzheimer’s disease genome-wide statistics, which have been used to assess the genetic risk for dementia. Participants of European origin were separated into five groups, whereas those of African heritage were divided into three groups based on genetic risk scores. People having at least one copy of the APOE gene variant associated with Alzheimer’s disease, APOE e4, were in the group with the highest hereditary risk. Those with European ancestry had 27.9 percent of the APOE e4 variant, whereas those with African heritage had 40.4 percent of the APOE e4 variant. The group with the lowest risk carried the APOE e2 variation, which has been linked to a lower risk of dementia.
By the end of the study, 1,603 people with European ancestry developed dementia and 631 people with African ancestry developed dementia.
Researchers discovered that those with European ancestry who scored the highest in lifestyle characteristics had a lower chance of dementia across all five genetic risk categories, including the group with the highest genetic risk of dementia. Each one-point rise in the lifestyle component score resulted in a 9% decreased probability of acquiring dementia. When compared to the low category of the lifestyle factor score, people with European ancestry in the middle and high categories had a 30% and 43% lower incidence of dementia, respectively. The moderate and high categories of African ancestry were related with a 6% and 17% decreased incidence of dementia, respectively.
Researchers discovered a similar pattern of decreased dementia risk across all three categories among adults of African ancestry who scored higher on the lifestyle characteristics. However, researchers stated that the lesser number of participants in this group limited the findings, implying that more research is required.
“Larger sample sizes from multiple populations are required to obtain more solid estimates of the influence of these modifiable health determinants on dementia risk within various genetic risk groups and ancestral origins,” Tin added.
The study’s limitations were a smaller sample size among people of African ancestry and the fact that many African American participants were recruited from a single area. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Human Genome Research Institute all provided funding for the study.