July 14, 2011

Lessen Risk of Dementia by Exercising

(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ A new study has found that through non-traditional ways of maintaining your overall health, you may lower your risk for developing dementia. By improving certain health factors, most importantly by exercising, it's possible to keep dementia away.

"We looked at a large number of things which individually on their own are not associated with Alzheimer's, but you put them all together and the overall picture is associated with Alzheimer's. We did this to understand how small effects add up," Kenneth Rockwood, M.D., of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and study author, told Ivanhoe.

More than 7,000 people over the age of 65 were included in the study.  None had dementia. The participants were evaluated for Alzheimer's disease and all types of dementia after five years and then again after ten. They were asked questions about 19 health problems not previously associated with dementia, including: arthritis, trouble hearing or seeing, denture fit, chest or skin problems, stomach or bladder troubles, sinus issues, broken bones and feet or ankle conditions.

The results showed that on the ten year mark, 2,915 of the participants had died, 883 were healthy, 416 had Alzheimer's disease, 191 had other types of dementia, 677 had cognitive problems but no dementia, and the cognitive status of 1,023 people was not clear. The researchers found that each health problem increased a person's odds of developing dementia by 3.2 percent. Older adults without health problems had an 18 percent chance to become demented in 10 years, while such risk increased to 30 percent and 40 percent in those who had 8 and 12 health problems, respectively.

"What we would say to the general public at this point, is that it appears that the healthier you are in general the lower the risk of Alzheimer's. The single thing that most individuals can do to improve their health is physical exercise," Dr. Rockwood said.

SOURCE: Neurology, July 13, 2011.