Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia
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Even more people are predicted to develop the brain-robbing condition but, according to the latest evidence, “up to 40 percent of dementia cases could be prevented”. This is especially true if people modified six risk factors for the neurological condition.
Six modifiable factors
- Hearing impairment
- High blood pressure
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Infrequent social contact.
“It is known that smoking increases the risk of vascular problems, including strokes or smaller bleeds in the brain, which are also risk factors for dementia,” the charity explains.
“In addition, toxins in cigarette smoke cause inflammation and stress to cells, which have both been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Even secondhand smoke has been linked to dementia risk; the more exposure you have, the greater the risk.
“People with hearing loss are also more likely to develop dementia,” adds the charity.
While this link is not fully understood, experts at the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) suggests that “communication difficulties may be one reason”.
To be engaged in conversations with others, those who are hard of hearing could benefit from wearing a hearing aid.
High blood pressure
The Alzheimer’s Society points out that long-term research demonstrated that high blood pressure, particularly from mid-life, can increase the risk of vascular dementia.
The NHS clarifies that high blood pressure is 140/90mmHg or higher, or 50/90mmHg and higher if over the age of 80.
An ideal blood pressure reading is between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg, which is achievable by:
- Reducing salt intake
- Eating a low-fat, balanced diet
- Drinking less caffeine
- Stop smoking
- Cutting down on alcohol.
By moving more, you can help to bring down high blood pressure readings and your dementia risk.
The national health service recommends adults to exercise for at least 150 minutes each week.
To make this target more manageable, it helps to incorporate three 10-minute stints of activity, five times per week.
Excessive alcohol consumption
Drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week, according to the NHS, is excessive.
To put units into perspective, a single spirit (25ml) is equivalent to one unit, whereas a glass of 175ml wine, for example, would be around 2.3 units of alcohol.
“Excessive alcohol consumption over a lengthy time period can lead to brain damage,” the Alzheimer’s Society says.
“People who drink heavily over a long period of time are more likely to have a reduced volume of the brain’s white matter, which helps to transmit signals between different brain regions.”
Infrequent social contact
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that social isolation is associated with a 50 percent increased risk of dementia.
Speaking regularly to immediate family and friends could be one way to stay socially connected.
Or consider enrolling in a new class, joining a book club, for example, volunteering, or taking up a social hobby.
Even increasing everyday communication day to day, such as when you go to the shop, can help.
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