(dailyRx News) As life spans continue to increase, so the will risk of dementia in individuals, but new research from Sweden indicates people can minimize this risk.
Scientist Laura Fratiglioni and colleagues from the Karolinska Institutet are identifying preventive strategies such as mental, physical and social activities to ward off dementia or at least delay it.
Dementia risk is partly determined by an individuals genetic susceptibility, but ongoing involvement in mental, physical and social activities can preserve cognitive functions.
Diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure in mid-life can increase dementia risk past age 70, however. What's good for the heart is good for the brain, Fratiglioni said.
Having a mentally, physically and socially active life can delay dementia risk, and it doesn't matter what those activities are, according to Fratiglioni. The brain, she said, requires activity and exercise, just as the heart does. What sitting on the couch does to your heart, watching a "Jersey Shore" marathon does to your brain.
Meanwhile scientists across Europe are enrolling participants to investigate what happens when when a large number of individuals are given help to better control vascular risk factors and stimulate social, physical and mental activities.
Fratiglioni said in a few years, based on these studies, "we will know more about which strategies are most effective in preventing neurodegenerative diseases."
Dementia affects more than 24 million people worldwide. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting more than 5 million Americans. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.