Study lists habits that help prevent dementia even in those who are predisposed

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Study lists habits that help prevent dementia even in those who are predisposed

A new study published in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology has brought encouraging data on the prevention of dementia, a disease that now affects more than 1 million Brazilians, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

After following 11,561 volunteers for 26 years, scientists at the University of Mississippi, in the United States, concluded that cultivating seven healthy lifestyle habits reduces the risk of developing this cognitive syndrome. The great finding is that this also applies to people with a genetic predisposition to dementia.

“This study reinforces several others that have already been presented on a series of environmental factors that can modify the possibility of the disease or at least postpone it in those who have a genetic predisposition”, says neurologist Adalberto Studart Neto, a member of ABNeuro (Brazilian Academy of Neurology) .

The research was conducted based on the seven heart and brain health factors defined by the American Heart Association: being physically active, eating a balanced diet, not being overweight, not smoking, maintaining healthy blood pressure, controlling cholesterol and lowering cholesterol. blood sugar.

Participants, who had an average age of 54 years at the start of the investigation, were scored according to their levels among these factors and taking into account their genetic markers.

At the end of the study, the authors found that adhering to positive actions for brain and heart health was associated with up to a 43% reduction in the risk of developing dementias, such as Alzheimer’s and senile dementia, even when genetics are involved.

“Studies had already pointed out the influence of these risk factors in relation to the general population. When we started to refine these data and discover that this also applies to individuals in adverse scenarios, the importance of controlling these aspects is shown”, comments psychiatrist Valeska Marinho , coordinator of the Center for Alzheimer’s Disease at IPUB/UFRJ (Institute of Psychiatry at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro).

“When you adopt good habits, you can control or mitigate this genetic factor very effectively”, adds cardiologist Luciano Drager, director of Promotion and Research at Socesp (Sociedade de Cardiologia do Estado de São Paulo)

Although the development of the intellect is always remembered as a way to avoid cognitive syndromes, cardiovascular health is decisive for those who want to postpone the onset of this problem.

Drager explains that hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes are conditions capable of damaging neurons.

“They are very sensitive. When you have a reduced blood supply to the brain, it activates a series of mechanisms of inflammation and stress that end up contributing to decrease the supply of oxygen and damage the neurons. Over time, this takes to the loss of these cells”, he reports. The specialist at Socesp warns that this process takes place even in the absence of a stroke, slowly and progressively, which affects cognition.

Neurologist Adalberto Neto points out that cardiovascular problems directly affect the functioning of the brain. An example is small vessel disease, mainly caused by hypertension and diabetes.

“The person suffers small ischemic strokes, which are silent, but over time they accumulate and lead to dementia”, explains the specialist.

Research carried out in Finland and published in The Lancet showed the influence of these factors in preventing the syndrome. Scientists followed a group of 2,000 elderly people for two years, with an average age of 69 years. The class that received memory training, practiced exercises, changed their diet and had their heart health monitored by specialists had a lower rate of dementia.

The neurologist says that work along the same lines will be carried out in nine countries in Latin America, including Brazil, to understand the effect of these habits on the population of our continent. Here, it is being conducted by the Hospital das Clínicas of the FMUSP (Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo), where Neto works. Anyone wishing to participate can apply by email.

“Over the past few decades, studies have demonstrated the power of regular physical activity in middle-aged and elderly adults, in part because it helps to control risk factors, but also because it generates better brain metabolism,” says the member of the ABNeuro.

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