Better heart health linked with lower dementia risk in older age population

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By Alice Tuohy | Tuesday 21 August 2018

JAMA: Association of Cardiovascular Health Level in Older Age With Cognitive Decline and Incident Dementia

A team of scientists in France has identified a decreased dementia risk for people who have better heart health. The findings are published today (Tuesday 21 August) in the scientific publication, JAMA.

Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Although age is the largest risk factor for dementia, the condition is not an inevitable part of getting older and there are things we can all do to help reduce our risk. This large study of over 6,000 older people in France adds to a wealth of existing evidence indicating that what is good for the heart is also good for the brain.

“While this research focussed on aspects of a healthy lifestyle in people over the age 65, previous research has highlighted middle-age as a key time for people to take steps to limit their risk of dementia. We know that the diseases that cause dementia can begin to develop in the brain up to 20 years before symptoms show so it’s never too early to take steps to reduce your risk.

“This study found that regular exercise, a healthy diet, not smoking, and controlling weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar were all associated with a lower risk of dementia. As well as these seven aspects of healthy living, drinking within recommended guidelines and staying mentally active and socially engaged have also been linked to better brain health in later life.

“Staying healthy doesn’t have to mean running marathons or sticking to intense diets, and modest changes in lifestyle can have a big impact on our health in the long-term. Anyone who has concerns about their heart health, or their brain health, should speak to their GP.”

About the author

Alice Tuohy