Some 30% of dementia cases could be prevented if the patient had a more healthy lifestyle, the AD reports on Tuesday.
In particular, high blood pressure is a major cause of dementia which is affecting an increasing number of people, the paper says, quoting researchers at Rotterdam’s Erasmus teaching hospital.
The researchers followed 10,000 people in Rotterdam over two periods of 10 years. One group of people aged 55 and over were followed from 1990 to 2000 and a second group from 2000 to 2010.
In the first group, 20% went on to develop lifestyle-related dementia, but this rose to 33% in the second group, even though fewer people smoked or had high cholesterol levels in their blood.
Neuro-epidemiologist Arfan Ikram, who led the research project, says high blood pressure appears to be the main cause.
‘Fewer people smoke – just 10% of the population compared with 30% in 1990,’ says Ikram. ‘And people know how to keep their cholesterol low with medicine.’
High blood pressure develops from being overweight, eating saturated fat, salt and sugar and a lack of exercise.
Ikram says more attention needs to be paid to the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. ‘There is a world to win,’ the Erasmus professor said. He also says campaigns to encourage healthy eating should make a clear link between unhealthy diets and a lack of exercise with dementia.
Diabetes and a low level of education are also major risk factors, Ikram said.
‘Challenging the brain from a young age allows it to better deal with the damage caused by dementia,’ he said. ‘Educational levels have risen but it remains important to keep training the grey masses thoughout your life.’
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