Dementia: The habits to implement in your 40s and 50s to lower your risk of the condition
Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia
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The number of people living with dementia is expected to surpass 130 million by 2050. This could bring the total number of cases in the UK to two million. Doing all you can to help reduce your risk of developing dementia is imperative which a new study has revealed can be more than just eating healthy and exercising.
A new study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, has shed light on another way to help stave off the condition.
In fact, the study has found those who have had higher education or developed an advanced language skill in their lifetime more than doubled their chances of returning to normal levels of cognition.
The study, led by researchers at the University of Waterloo, reassures those with mild cognitive impairment as it contradicts a common assumption that the condition is simply an early stage of dementia.
Researchers found those suffering with mild cognitive impairment show signs of cognitive decline, but not enough to prevent them from performing typical daily tasks.
They have been considered at higher risk of progressing to the more severe cognitive decline seen in dementia with this latest study dispelling those predictions.
“Possessing high cognitive reserve – based on education, high academic grades, and written language skills – may predict what happens years after someone receives a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment,” said professor at the School of Public Health Sciences at Waterloo and lead study author, Suzanne Tyas.
She added: “Even after considering age and genetics – established risk factors for dementia – we found that higher levels of education more than doubled the chances that people with mild cognitive impairment would return to normal cognition instead of progressing to dementia.”
When it comes to the subject in school which showed the most improvement in cognition health, high grades in English came on top.
These include strong writing skills which are grammatically complex and full of new ideas.
The researchers discovered that almost one-third of 472 women diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment reverted to normal cognition at least once over an average of eight-and-a-half years following their diagnosis, with more than 80 percent of them never developing dementia.
The study found that people who are literate had a third the risk of developing dementia compared with those who had never learnt to read and write.
“We can’t do much about age and genetics, so it’s encouraging that our findings show that there are other ways to reduce the risk of dementia, such as building cognitive reserve through education and language skills earlier in life,” said Tyas.
“If individuals with higher cognitive reserve are more likely to improve even without treatment, then this needs to be taken into consideration when recruiting participants for clinical trials of prospective treatments and when interpreting the results of these trials.
“There’s no cure for most causes of dementia, so prevention is key.”
Dr Katy Stubbs from Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “Dementia isn’t an inevitable part of ageing and evidence suggests that keeping the brain active throughout life may help boost cognitive reserve, a kind of resilience that allows our brains to resist damage for longer as we age.
“This research supports the established ‘use it or lose it’ idea, and results suggest that keeping the brain active could help delay the onset of dementia.”
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