Thursday, August 03, 2006

Researchers Devise Test to Predict Dementia Risk

Today a team from the Aging Research Center at the Karolinska Institutet in Finland published findings in the scientific journal, Lancet Neurology, which reinforces numerous other studies looking at parts of the Alzheimer's puzzle. After following more than 1400 people for 20 years, the team concluded that multiple lifestyle issues dramatically affect brain power over the years. Poor management of these factors can increase the probabilities of dementia. Or put in a more positive light, paying attention to these lifestyle choices can increase the probability of remaining mentally sharp and agile throughout life. The factors examined include an emphasis on learning from the get-go and throughout life, low blood pressure, low cholesterol, and staying away from the obese zone. Yep, "use it or lose it" is about to become even more of a Boomer mantra.

Regular physical exercise, stress management, good nutrition, social interactions with friends and family, and yes, brain exercise are all part of the prevention picture. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's or dementia. Using these findings, the team has come up with a simple test to gauge a particular person's probabilities of remaining healthy or succumbing to Alzheimer's or vascular dementia. And the test will also, no doubt, be a motivational tool for change in many cases. Most of us see a fit brain and healthy mind as the key to quality of life.

The tantalizing tidbit here is that there does appear to be a link between heart disease and dementia. It is so interesting that the same lifestyle considerations factor so hugely in both.

Great to have a study that puts it all together!

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