The five healthy lifestyle rules that could prevent dementia
11th December 2013
lifestyle changesBy adhering to five healthy, positive lifestyle choices, a person stands to slash their risk of developing dementia by around two thirds, according to the findings of a new Welsh study. Lead author Professor Peter Elwood, from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said healthy aspects of life are “far more beneficial effect than any medical treatment or preventive procedure”. “The size of reduction in the instance of disease owing to these simple healthy steps has really amazed us and is of enormous importance in an ageing population,” he said. “What the research shows is that following a healthy lifestyle confers surprisingly large benefits to health – healthy behaviours have a far more beneficial effect than any medical treatment or preventive procedure.” Professor Elwood said that it was apparent that “very few people” had a healthy enough lifestyle that would be sufficient in avoiding the onset of dementia. “Taking up and following a healthy lifestyle is however the responsibility of the individual him or herself,” he said. “Sadly, the evidence from this study shows that very few people follow a fully healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, our findings reveal that while the number of people who smoke has gone down since the study started, the number of people leading a fully healthy lifestyle has not changed.” The five key aspects of staving off a disease that has afflicted 800,000 people in the UK are as follows: engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight, not smoking, sticking to a healthy diet and minimising alcohol intake. Making sure to stick to at least four of the five healthy lifestyle habits may reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline by a staggering 60%, the researchers from Cardiff University found. The benefits of following four of the habits doesn’t stop there though, this could also help to reduce new cases of diabetes, heart disease and stroke by 70%. This would be compared to those who followed none of the lifestyle habits. The researchers, beginning in 1979, tracked 2,235 men from Caerphilly who were aged between 25 and 49, for a 35-year period. Behavioural patterns were recorded, with regards to the participants’ health, firstly looking at the possible causes of heart disease as this disease was rife in the area. However, as time passed through the cohort study, focus was shifted to analysing the devastating effects of dementia and strokes. It was determined that if half of the men involved in the study had be pressed into even adopting just one of the healthy lifestyle habits in 1979, this could have resulted in a 13% drop in dementia cases, in addition to 12% less diabetes diagnoses, 6% fewer cases of vascular disease and the number of fatalities may have even been 5% less. The findings were published in advance of today’s crucial meeting of health ministers from the G8 nations, which will aim to find new, more efficient ways of tackling the disease worldwide. David Cameron has already state that by 2025 the UK will double its annual funding for dementia research to £132 million, a significant increase from the 2015 target of £66 milliom. The prime minister’s announcement will be welcomed by many with estimates showing that the global number of dementia sufferers could treble to 135 million by 2050. Moreover, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) recently unveiled their plan to conduct random, unannounced inspection visits that will assess the care of dementia patients at 150 institutions across England.