August 06, 2006
Three Risk Factors For Dementia Identified
The mind is a terrible thing to waste. The big risk factors for dementia are the same as the big risk factors for heart disease.
A method to predict a middle-aged person's chance of developing dementia has been devised by scientists.
The test calculates risk by assessing factors such as blood pressure level, body mass index and cholesterol levels, along with age and education.
High blood pressure, high body mass index (most often caused by excess fat), and high cholesterol together can increase your risk of dementia by a factor of 6.
Having any one of these risk factors doubles a person's chance of developing dementia, and having all three increases their chances by six times, said Dr. Miia Kivipelto, an associate professor at the Aging Research Centre in Stockholm, Sweden, and the study's lead author.
The risk of dementia in 20 years for the middle aged can be calculated with 70% accuracy.
By assessing factors such as blood pressure, body fat and cholesterol levels in 1,400 middle-aged Finns in the 1970s and 1980s, scientists were able to predict, with a 70% accuracy rate, the onset of dementia 20 years later.
If you have high blood pressure then take blood pressure loweriing medicine. If you have high cholesterol then take a statin drug (e.g. Crestor or Lipitor). Also get more exercise and eat better food.
It is interesting how close sophisticated detection and prediction is to the day of cures. It isn't like we will predict who has dementia in 15 years since it is unlikely anyone will have it anymore. Similarly, the time between undestanding that apple juice helps against Alzheimer's and far more effective drugs will likely be under 10 years.
By the time dementia becomes apparent a person's brain has been decaying for decades. It is wrong to be complacent about cures coming in 15 or 20 or 25 years from now. Your mind will age and will become less intellectually able before we get those future rejuvenation therapies. That's why I do posts on diet, lifestyle, and aging. We have to live prudent lives with excellent diet and health habits while we wait for the future rejuvenation therapies. Try to retain as much of your mind as you can while you wait for the ability to do repair.
I agree that people should 1)try not to eat too much fat 2)eat berriers/drink apple juice 3)excercise 4)read often.
The rate of brain deterioration isn't linear but declines very slowly for most with very early dementia. Since we see significant progress in this area (Alzheimer specialists tend to think drugs will start to reverse the disease by 2010), it seems very unlikely that dementia will be an issue for those under 50. I'm tempted to push the line to those under 60.
Of course, there are cases of dementia at younger ages, but that is quite rare. It picks up after 65, becomes much more common among those in their 70s and still greater percentages of those in their 80s.
Anyway, I like your nutrition and excercise stories as well.