Lifestyle changes and treatment and the prevention of chronic medical conditions are the primary factors that could ensure people do not go on to develop the neurodegenerative disorder in their senior years, as is often the case nowadays.
On numerous occasions, the investigators learned, the condition's progress is favored by factors such as physical inactivity, low eduction, smoking, depression, diabetes, obesity, hypertension and so on. Mental inactivity is also an important cause.
Previous studies have already shown that speaking more than one language, exercising, and putting your mind to work are effective means of delaying both the onset and the progress of Alzheimer's.
In the study VAMC mental health researcher Deborah Barnes, PhD, conducted, experts looked at multiple studies on the condition, carried out all over the world and that included several hundreds of thousands of participants.
Depression, physical inactivity, smoking, hypertension, obesity and diabetes were found to be the predominant factors leading to the development of Alzheimer's disease in the US, PsychCentral reports.
When taken together, these factors account for no less than 54 percent of all cases recorded in the country. This is the equivalent of 2.9 million people. Globally, these risk factors account for 17.2 million cases of Alzheimer's.
“What’s exciting is that this suggests that some very simple lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity and quitting smoking, could have a tremendous impact on preventing Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the United States and worldwide,” Barnes explains.
Details of the new work appear in the latest online issue of the esteemed medical journal Lancet Neurology. The study was presented at the 2011 meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease, which was held in Paris, France.
“We are assuming that when you change the risk factor, then you change the risk. What we need to do now is figure out whether that assumption is correct,” Barnes goes on to say.
This type of studies is very important because it could have significant impact for the future of healthcare systems around the world. As the population ages, more and more seniors are expected to develop the condition – or related forms of dementia – which are all very hard to treat.