Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 08:42
Lifestyle, high blood pressure linked to dementia
There is still no cure for dementia, but researchers have discovered that in 30 percent cases the brain disorder can be prevented by healthy lifestyle. High blood pressure appears to be the biggest risk factor for dementia today. This is according to a study by Erasmus MC among 10 thousand Rotterdam residents, AD reports. Researchers followed a group of over-55 year olds from 1990 and another group from 2000 for 10 years. The researchers discovered that lifestyle plays a bigger role than initially expected - currently being a major factor in one third of the dementia cases, compared to in one fifth of the cases 25 years ago. And high blood pressure is the biggest culprit, according to Arfan Ikram, lead researcher and neuro-epidemiologist. High blood pressure is caused by, among other things, obesity, saturated fat, lack of exercise and salty and sugary foods. Smoking and cholesterol also plays a major role, but a smaller one than in the past. "Fewer and fewer people smoke - only 10 percent of the population as opposed to 30 percent in 1990. People also know to keep their cholesterol levels in check by swallowing depressants." Ikram explained. Diabetes and low education are also major factors. "Challenging the brain from childhood, makes it better able to absorb the damage caused by dementia in the brains. The level of education has increased in recent years, but it's just as important to keep the gray matter training for a lifetime." According to the epidemiologist, paying attention to a healthier lifestyle works, but not well enough. He is advocating for campaigns that clearly link dementia with unhealthy eating and lack of exercise. There are currently about 260 thousand people in the Netherlands suffering from dementia. Alzheimer Nederland expects that this number will increase to more than half a million patients by 2040. The organization told the AD that they are overjoyed that the Rotterdam study clearly reveals that the disease can be prevented. "Given the strong increase in the number of people with dementia, preventative measures need to be taken quickly." The Dutch government is also concerned about the increasing number of people suffering from dementia. Earlier this month State Secretary Martin van Rijn of Public Health announced a major campaign to raise society's awareness and understanding of he brain disorder.