New Study Shows Preventive Measures Can Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease, a debilitating neurodegenerative condition that affects millions of people worldwide, has long been a source of concern for both scientists and individuals. While there is still no cure for the disease, a recent study has found that preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
The study, conducted by the international research group The Lancet Commission on Dementia and Prevention, identified twelve risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease. These factors include poor education in early life, hearing loss, high blood pressure, traumatic brain injuries, harmful alcohol consumption, obesity, smoking, depression, social isolation, physical inactivity, diabetes, and air pollution.
According to the head of the Cologne Alzheimer Prevention Center, Frank Jessen, a healthy and active lifestyle can account for up to 40 percent of the risk of developing dementia. He emphasizes that preventive measures, taking these risk factors into account, can have a positive influence on the progression of the disease and reduce the individual risk of dementia.
While some factors, such as accidents causing head injuries, cannot be corrected, there are several factors that can be influenced, including a healthy diet, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and cognitive stimulation through activities like crossword puzzles and Sudoku.
The study also highlights the importance of social activity in dementia prevention. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the detrimental effects of social isolation on the cognitive performance and health of individuals with dementia. Social interaction and emotional contact play a crucial role in preventing cognitive decline.
Furthermore, the study points out three factors that are particularly important in Alzheimer’s prevention: good hearing, quality sleep, and avoiding head injuries. Jessen explains that the brain needs input, so difficulties in hearing can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. Similarly, chronic sleep disorders and head injuries, even minor ones, are associated with a higher risk of developing dementia.
However, prevention researcher Jochen René Thyrian from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) cautions that while avoiding risk factors can protect against dementia, it is important to understand that the complex nature of human health means that the concrete consequences for individuals may vary.
Despite the complexity, researchers estimate that around 38 percent of Alzheimer’s cases could be prevented by avoiding the identified risk factors. The Finger Study in Finland, which provided health advice, physical training, and mental stimulation to a group of older adults, showed positive effects in preventing dementia.
Building on the success of the Finger Study, the Agewell study in Germany aims to examine the impact of these preventive measures in a larger population. Results from the study, which involves over 1,000 older adults with an increased risk of dementia, are expected later this year and could lead to recommendations for incorporating these measures into regular care.
The World Health Organization estimates that around 1.8 million people in Germany over the age of 65 suffer from dementia, highlighting the urgency of preventive measures. By reducing the risk factors by just 15 percent, researchers predict that over 138,000 cases of dementia could be delayed or avoided by 2033.
While it is never too early to adopt a healthy lifestyle, experts emphasize that cognitive activation becomes particularly important when the first symptoms of dementia appear. Engaging in activities that challenge the mind can help delay the progression of the disease.
Overall, this study brings hope to individuals and their families affected by Alzheimer’s disease. By implementing preventive measures and adopting a healthy, active lifestyle, it is possible to reduce the risk of dementia and potentially delay its onset.]
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