Older people are more likely to develop brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, bu according to a new study, they can prevent the cognitive deterioration by following a daily schedule of exercise, healthy diets and brain training techniques.
The findings of the new study were published by its authors in The Lancet.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers from Finland and Sweden and according to them this is actually the first ever randomized control trial of its kind which managed to show that an intensive program meant for fighting certain risk factors can actually slow down the decline of the cognitive functions.
Previous studies have suggested that some lifestyle and vascular risk factors can lead to Alzheimer’s and cognitive impairment later in life.
Experts say that there are seven modifiable factors responsible for more than a third of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide. These factors are: midlife hypertension, low education, midlife obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, depression and smoking.
The researchers say that more studies are needed in order to confirm all these factors and to find ways of preventing cognitive impairment.
Miia Kivipelto, one of the scientists involved in the new study and a professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, analyzed the effects of some of the factors that trigger the appearance of dementia.
The study is called Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability and was conducted in collaboration with the University of Eastern Finland and the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki.
The study involved 1,260 participants from all over Finland, between the ages of 60 and 77. Half of these people were allocated to an intervention group randomly and the other half were sent to a control group. The people in the second group were given only regular health advice.
All the participants had a high risk of dementia, based on standardized test scores.
Those in the intervention group met with health professionals and received advice on how to maintain a healthy diet, what exercises to do and how to train their brain.
After two years, the participants’ mental function was scored using a standard test known as the Neuropsychological Test Battery. The test results showed that the participants in the first group had a better mental functioning.
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