Seven healthy habits that reduce the risk of dementia later in life

Seven healthy habits that reduce the risk of dementia later in life

New research that followed female participants for two decades has found that seven healthy habits and lifestyle factors may play a role in reducing the risk of dementia, according to the preliminary study presented at the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.

The seven factors of cardiovascular and brain health, known as the American Heart Association’s ‘Life’s Simple 7’, are: staying active, eating better, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, maintaining healthy blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, and having low blood sugar.

“Since we now know that dementia can begin in the brain decades before diagnosis, it’s important that we know more about how habits in midlife can affect the risk of dementia in old age,” says Pamela Rist, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston (United States) and member of the American Academy of Neurology.

Stock image of olive oil.

“The good news is that making healthy lifestyle choices in midlife can lead to a lower risk of dementia later in life,” she adds.

20 years of study follow-up

The study included 13,720 women with a mean age of 54 years at baseline. After 20 years of follow-up, the investigators examined Medicare data to identify those who had been diagnosed with dementia. Of the participants, 1,771, or 13%, developed dementia.

For each of the seven health factors, participants received a score of zero for poor or intermediate health and one point for ideal health, for a total possible score of 7. The mean score was 4.3 at the start of the study and 4.2 10 years later.

Stem cells model genetic risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Age and education

After adjusting for factors such as age and education, the researchers found that for every one-point increase in score, a participant’s risk of dementia decreased by 6%.

“It can be encouraging for people to know that by taking steps such as exercising for half an hour a day or keeping lblood pressure under controlcan reduce their risk of dementia,” Rist adds.


Kayleigh Williams