Avoid stress and maintain a healthy weight to prevent Alzheimer’s – study

Alzheimer’s disease may be preventable by keeping an eye on key factors including weight gain, blood pressure and avoiding stress, experts say.

Researchers said many risk factors are modifiable in the fight to prevent dementia, which affects around 850,000 people in the UK, two-thirds of whom have Alzheimer’s.

Their review of existing studies found 10 risk factors had strong evidence of a link with Alzheimer’s, and people could take action to avoid them.

These included ensuring good education in early life, keeping the brain active through activities such as reading, and not being overweight or obese in later life.

People should also avoid depression, stress, high blood pressure, head trauma and diabetes to reduce their risk, they said.

Other factors had weaker links that could be adjusted, including not being obese in midlife, taking exercise, getting enough sleep, including vitamin C in the diet and not smoking.

The study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, was led by Professor Jin-Tai Yu at Fudan University in China.

The researchers gathered 395 studies and came up with a list of factors that could be used by doctors to try to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

They said research into preventing dementia should continue but their report offered “clinicians and stakeholders an evidence-based guideline for Alzheimer’s disease prevention”.

Fiona Carragher, director of research and influencing at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “In recent years, research has suggested that nearly a third of dementia cases may be preventable and this review builds on this idea, specifically in relation to Alzheimer’s disease and how certain risk factors, many of which are associated with cardiovascular health, may be within our control.

“We need a deeper dive into each of these risk factors to understand how they work together on an individual level and how best to support people to manage them.

“This review demonstrates that, while observational studies are useful to help identify potential risk factors, we need to see many more interventional trials to understand what the best approaches are to preventing Alzheimer’s disease developing in the first place.

“We don’t have all the answers yet, but we do know that small steps to improving your physical and mental health can make a big difference, like walking to your local shop for milk instead of jumping in the car.”

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