February 23, 2011

Protect Your Brain

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- As the average life span is increasing, dementia becomes much more common. It's now known that everyone can minimize their risk of being affected by watching and controlling their weight and blood pressure in addition to working out and increasing mental activity.

In addition to dementia, cognitive impairment is also on the rise. It is estimated that more than 24 million people worldwide who are 75 years and older are affected by dementia, most of which are suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Age is a risk factor for developing dementia; however it is now known that over the course of life cumulative exposure to different risk factors could account for developing dementia.

Laura Fratiglioni's research group at Karolinska Institutet has shown that the risk of dementia is partly determined by an individual genetic susceptibility, and that active involvement in mental, physical and social activities can delay the onset of dementia by preserving cognitive functions.

"The brain, just as other parts of the body, requires stimulation and exercise in order to continue to function. Elderly people with an active life "“ mentally, physically and socially "“ run a lower risk of developing dementia, and it doesn't matter what the particular activities are", Swedish Professor Laura Fratiglioni was quoted as saying.

Fratiglioni's research has also shown that physical factors are significant, not only high and low blood pressure, but also diabetes and obesity in middle-age increase the risk of developing dementia after the age of 70. "What is good for the heart is good for the brain", Fratiglioni said.

SOURCE: Karolinska Institutet, February 2011