Study: Adopting heart-healthy lifestyle may reduce Alzheimer’s risk

a close up of a female doctor

The world of Alzheimer’s research and development is continuously revealing new information about causes and preventative measures for this form of dementia. Decades of analysis have made it abundantly clear that this condition isn’t all in the brain, and a September 2014 report from Alzheimer’s Disease International supports this notion, focusing on the link between heart health and Alzheimer’s.


The 2014 World Alzheimer’s Report, “Dementia and Risk Reduction: An analysis of protective and modifiable factors,” stated that taking on heart-healthy habits can significantly lower one’s chances of developing the cognitive condition Alzheimer’s. It stated that diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking are major factors affecting one’s likelihood of forming dementia.

What does this mean for seniors?

In general, the medical world has long thought of Alzheimer’s as a disease out of their hands – that there’s no way to stop it from taking over. With the widespread belief that the form of dementia is hereditary, this is an all-too-common notion that leads people to simply give into the deterioration of memory and cognition. But this new information, as well as other revelations in how to reduce one’s risk, provides hope that risk reduction is within one’s control.

As the ADI report notes, further studies are needed to uncover more about the link between heart health and Alzheimer’s. Future research may very well reveal that taking on healthy habits after dementia has set in can slow the progress of the condition, a notion that reputable organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association speculate to be true. In fact, Graham Stokes, global dementia care director for health care group Bupa, believes it can help seniors who already have Alzheimer’s.

“People who already have dementia, or signs of it, can also do these things, which may help to slow the progression of the disease,” Stokes told HealthDay.

What does this mean for caregivers?

Those whose parents have Alzheimer’s may want to take heed of this report – as Time magazine reported, Maria Carrillo, Alzheimer’s Association vice president of medical and scientific relations, declared in a statement that maintaining heart health may lower one’s risk of developing dementia.

“The best evidence right now for lifestyle factors that may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias is for regular physical activity in combination with social and mental stimulation, and quitting smoking,” Carrillo said. “Other lifestyle aspects that may contribute to healthy-brain aging are eating a brain-healthy diet, being mentally active, and being socially engaged.”

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