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Risk Factors That Put You On the Road to Dementia

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Risk Factors That Put You On the Road to Dementia

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May 30, 2018 — The number of people around the world with dementia is staggering — and growing. The mind-robbing disease has no cure, but recent research is beginning to show how you may best be able lower your chances of getting it.

“It’s not yet definitive, but in the past 5 years, we’ve made progress on identifying modifiable risk factors for which the evidence is pretty strong,” says Kristine Yaffe, MD, professor of psychiatry, neurology and epidemiology at the University of California San Francisco and director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

At least one risk factor, getting older, is unavoidable. But scientists say there are lifestyle choices that may lower the odds in your favor. And while it’s never too late to benefit from healthy changes in your life, studies show that starting early may mean extra protection decades later.

“Research from the past 2 to 3 years suggests that risk factors need to be focused on in midlife,” says Keith Fargo, PhD, director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Consider high blood pressure. In a study published last August, researchers followed nearly 16,000 adults ages 44 to 66 for 24 years. They found that people with high blood pressure in midlife had a nearly 40% higher risk of dementia. A 2014 review of previously published studies estimated that midlife high blood pressure led to as many as 425,000 cases of Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. each year.

But, advises neurologist Douglas Scharre, MD, you should pay attention to your health no matter how young or old you are.

“If you have any dementia risk factor identified at any age, that is when you should be addressing or trying to control it,” says Scharre, director of the division of cognitive neurology at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.

Millions more, but why?

It’s estimated that 82 million people worldwide will have dementia by 2030, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, an estimated 14 million will have Alzheimer’s disease, a leading cause of dementia, by 2050, more than double the current number.

Dementia causes a slow decline in thinking skills. It affects memory, mood, language, and other functions of the brain. People with dementia eventually become unable to live independently and require around-the-clock care and attention. Alzheimer’s is the leading cause, followed by stroke and other conditions that damage blood vessels can cause what’s known as vascular dementia.

In addition to maintaining a healthy blood pressure, evidence has been building that keeping other heart health factors, such as cholesterol and diabetes in check, may lower your risk…. more here: https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/news/20180530/risk-factors-that-put-you-on-the-road-to-dementia?src=RSS_PUBLIC

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