More than one third cases of dementia are due to lifestyle issues - How are both related?
12:15 06 August 2019
Medical experts have been frustrated and annoyed for several years due to the soaring rates of dementia among people in UK, but there’s a new report which suggests that by going for few lifestyle tweaks, they could prevent more than one-third of dementia cases all over the world. As published in the Lancet medical journal, a panel of 25 medical experts reviewed the studies on this condition.
Dementia has always been considered as neither treatable nor preventable. Experts claim that more than 40% of the dementia cases are related to 9 risk factors like midlife hypertension, hearing loss, education, obesity, depression during the later stage of life, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, social isolation and smoking. Not only have they found out these risk factors but the medical analysts also believe that if people could target these risk factors, this could either delay the onset of the disease or even prevent it at times.
Burgeoning levels of dementia cases – Numbers are set to triple
As the number of dementia cases keep spurring out of control, there is even more pressing need to look for solutions that could stop the spread of this disease throughout the world. In the year 2015, globally, an approximate 48 million people were all living with dementia in the year 2016 and this scary number is all set to reach 70 million people by the end of 2030, 135 million people by the end of 2050, as per a trusted report.
Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach, at the Alzheimer’s Association, Dr, Keith Fargo said that these reports always offers concrete and well-researched information to those people who are worried that they can’t take any steps to reduce the risk of dementia. Though elderly care is available everywhere yet people have started expressing a wish to bring about few lifestyle changes so that they could settle down things.
Delaying the onset of dementia and maintaining a good quality life
The researchers found that ending education way before reaching secondary school was linked with a 10% increased risk of incurring this neurodegenerative mental health disorder. Education is a vital factor as it adds to the cognitive reserve of a person which makes them function in a better way whenever there is an early onset of dementia and also in some cases, delay the onset.
Medical experts also believe that hypertension, obesity and diabetes heightened the risk of dementia. Such conditions can have an impact on insulin mechanisms and inflammation within the body which can lead to cognitive decline. Another new risk factor which was focused on was loss of hearing. Whenever there is a hearing loss, this could increase the cognitive load over the brain which is already under the stress of dementia. Moreover, hearing loss can make people less social and withdrawn from society and this could even lead to depression.
There are several interventions available and proper dementia caring could also cure the trajectory of warning signs and also assist the family of the patient to cope up with it and hence alter the experience of the disease. The officials from Alzheimer’s Association announced that they would launch a 2-year study to check whether any kind of lifestyle tweaks like nutritional counseling, physical exercise, social and cognitive stimulation or even self-management of medical conditions could reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Experts are of the opinion that if someone could even delay the onset of dementia even by few years, this can have huge result for someone during their 80s or 90s. In case of a person who is 95 years of age and who could delay dementia by at least 2 years, he would probably die due to unrelated reasons not having to go through the fear and pain associated with dementia.
Little-known risk factors of dementia – Try to stay aware
There are indeed staggering statistics related to dementia and according to Alzheimer’s Disease International, nearly a trillion dollars are spent every year for providing care to such individuals. Dementia is a disease which refers to a specific group of symptoms like communication issues and memory loss which leads to changes to the brain. There are several conditions and diseases which can lead to dementia and one of them is Alzheimer’s disease. Let’s take a look at the few surprising and unknown risk factors of dementia.
Did you know that snoring could also have a harmful impact on your brain? There is a sleep condition called OSA or obstructive sleep apnea which is strongly related to risks like Alzheimer’s disease. OSA is a disease where the person’s breathing begins and stops during sleep. Such small interruptions can reduce supply of oxygen to different organs of the body and this can lead to heart issues and high blood pressure. There are changes in the spinal fluid of patients and such changes could be tied to changes in the brain which could lead to Alzheimer’s.
- HEARING LOSS & LACK OF EDUCATION
As mentioned earlier, as per the Lancet journal, one-third of dementia cases could be stalled through lifestyle changes. Few risk factors like hearing loss among the middle-aged people, low levels of education were linked with risks that are almost equivalent to obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. The medical experts concluded that there could be few changes like providing education to all above the age of 15 and treating all those who suffer from hearing loss could reduce the total number of dementia cases by at least 8-9%.
- CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS
Would you ever be building a strong body even if you had to pay the price of a healthy mind? Although it is true that calcium can help in boosting the health of your bones but if you continue taking it for several years, they can also have a controversial effect on your body. Women who already had symptoms of cerebrovascular disease and who took calcium supplements were more prone towards developing dementia. Such women are 7 times more likely to develop dementia. Calcium pills could change the flow of blood to the brain which could lead to dementia.
Did you ever stand up too quickly and feel light-headed all of a sudden? For few people, such a feeling can occur more frequently and this is called orthostatic hypotension which is a case where your blood pressure can drop when you change from a lying position to a standing position. The senior adults who experience such fluctuations in blood pressure saw a 20% increase in developing dementia as against those who don’t experience any changes in blood pressure.
Although ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is usually considered as a disorder among children yet there are more than 5% adults in America who still suffer from this condition as per National Institutes of Health. According to Journal of Attention Disorders claim that people who are diagnosed with ADHD are more likely to be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and dementia later as compared to adults who don’t have ADHD. Though the mechanism between the 2 is still not clear yet there are connections that are being established.
- UNHEALTHY HEART
There is a strong connection between the mind and the heart and this has been well established by medical experts. Research suggests that it is important to keep your heart healthy in order to keep your brain healthy. In such cases, the connection is established due to the health of your blood vessels. There are few things that can damage your blood vessels like diabetes, blood pressure and smoking and all these can even heighten your risk of developing dementia. However, the researchers also noted that the study doesn’t prove that it is totally possible to lower dementia risk by taking care of your heart.
- REDUCED LEVEL OF REM SLEEP
Have you ever thought whether or not sweet dreams can safeguard your brain? There was a journal called Neurology which was published in 2017 August which found that seniors who spent less time in Rapid Eye Movement or REM are keener to develop dementia as compared against those who got more REM sleep. REM sleep is a part of the cycle of sleep which is defined by the time when the brain is at its highest activity stage and this is mostly when you dream. Researchers have found out that adults who spend 18% of their sleep in REM are more prone to developing dementia.
- HEAD INJURY
If there are continuous blows to the head, this can lead to severe brain disorder. Something that is less clear is the way head injuries are linked to Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia. A study took into account 32 researches which involved 2 million people where 15,000 cases of dementia and 8000 cases of Alzheimer’s. When a person loses his consciousness due to head injury, he should get himself treated before things get worse.
Cut down the risk of dementia if you’re tensed about it
There is no doubt about the fact that dementia is one of the fastest growing health disorders in the world. Dementia which is said to affect the thinking and memory of a person has already had its impact on more than 50 million people all over the globe. Apart from this number, around 10 million new cases are diagnosed almost every year and the total number of people to be diagnosed with the disease will triple in the next 30 years. Although WHO believes that there’s no treatment for dementia, they still suggest that the risk can be lowered by bringing about few changes.
Take a properly balanced diet
A healthy diet is not only known to cut down the risk of suffering from dementia but it can overall help you maintain a proper health. By maintaining a healthy diet, you can prevent heart issues, diabetes and even cancer. Not only that, the benefits can also extend to the health of your brain. WHO recommends you to load up on green vegetables, fruits, olive oil, fish, nuts and coffee as all of them are linked with lowering the risk of causing dementia. Specifically, the Mediterranean diet can reduce all sorts of cognitive impairment.
Research reveals that exercise can work wonders for our body and brain. According to a study of 2010, it was found that people who exercised on a regular basis were much less likely to develop dementia or even go through any cognitive decline as against those who led a sedentary life. If you’re not sure about how much exercise you should be doing, you can get in touch with a fitness expert. They will tell you to do a minimum of 150 minute exercise everyday which may include biking, jogging and also walking. Remember that the key is to maintain consistency
Cut down on smoking and drinking
After several researches we know that cigarette smoking can increase the risk of suffering from dementia, especially among people who are more than 65 years of age. This is why WHO recommends people to stop smoking tobacco. As long as drinking is concerned, a glass of beer or wine occasionally won’t cause too much of harm and light alcohol use can even lower rsk of dementia.
Don’t think of dietary or vitamin supplements
WHO always speaks against using dietary or vitamin supplements. As there is not much research on whether or not the Vitamin E or B pills could do anything to prevent dementia, they never recommend patients to take them. The bottom line is that there are no such drugs or supplements that are up to the mark of WHO which can have a positive impact in curbing dementia.
Be socially active
Social isolation is one of the biggest drivers of anxiety and depression among the older adults. Loneliness and social withdrawal will speed up your path towards improving your mental health. Try to maintain a strong social network.
If you want to know more on WHO and its guidelines which recommend how to reduce the risk of dementia, you may check their official website. It is easily possible to live peacefully with dementia if you can prevent the symptoms on time. Follow the tips and strategies mentioned above.