Alzheimer’s predisposition cannot be reversed, but several influencing factors are now known that can be actively ameliorated. Most of them are related to lifestyle. According to a study from the United States, about a third of cases can be attributed to only three such risk factors. This underscores how important a healthy lifestyle is to prevent dementia.
Eight variable factors increase the risk of dementia: physical inactivity, smoking, depression, low educational attainment, diabetes mellitus, middle-aged obesity, middle-aged hypertension and hearing loss. A survey of nearly 400,000 people in the United States shows that obesity (17.7%), lack of exercise (11.8%) and low educational attainment (11.7%) account for more than a third of dementia cases. If these three factors were reduced by 25 percent, about a fifth of dementia cases could be avoided, the researchers write in the journal “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.”
Experts like Prof. Dr. Hans-Christophe Diener, spokesman for the German Society for Neurology, sees great potential for preventive measures here: “We know the harmful effects of an unhealthy lifestyle on the cardiovascular system and cancer risk – but it also affects our health. Affects that affect the brain so dramatically are not yet commonly known, even in Germany.”
There are currently 1.6 million people living with dementia in Germany. Due to demographic changes, it is believed that this number will increase significantly, which will pose great challenges to the health system and society.
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