Dodge Dementia With Healthy Lifestyle

Dodge Dementia With Healthy Lifestyle

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

Seniors, here’s a recipe for preventing dementia: eat well, exercise and don’t smoke.

The only catch, according to a new study? If you carry genes that leave you vulnerable to the memory-robbing disease, lifestyle might not be enough.

In the study, researchers found that of over 6,300 adults aged 55 and older, those with healthy habits had a lower risk of being diagnosed with dementia over the next 15 years. That was true, at least, for people at low or intermediate risk of dementia because of their genes.

Among people who carried high-risk genes, there was no evidence that lifestyle swayed the odds of developing dementia.

The findings, published Aug. 26 in the journal Nature Medicine, support a number of past studies suggesting that heart-healthy habits may also protect the brain.

But they are at odds with some past research, too: Other studies have suggested that lifestyle choices do, in fact, make a difference for people at high genetic risk for dementia.

The reasons for the differing findings are unclear. But the age of the study participants could be a factor, according to lead researcher Dr. Silvan Licher, of Erasmus MC-University Medical Center, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

People in his study were about 69 years old, on average, when their lifestyle habits were measured. But it might be healthy habits earlier in life — middle-age or sooner — that are critical for countering a high genetic risk for dementia.

So, the point is not to discourage anyone from following a healthy lifestyle, Licher stressed.

“These results should not alter the message about the importance of a healthy lifestyle to lower the risk of dementia,” he said.

If anything, he added, the findings offer “an extra incentive” to adopt healthy habits now instead of later. The benefits, Licher noted, are numerous — including lower risks of heart disease and stroke.

For the study, the researchers assigned participants into groups based on the genes they carried. The investigators used two different approaches to do that. In one, they focused on the APOE gene; certain variants of that gene are linked to a relatively higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In the second, they considered an array of genes that have been tied to dementia risk — assigning each participant a “polygenic” score.

Licher’s team also scored the participants based on certain lifestyle and health factors: exercise habits; diet and alcohol intake; smoking; and whether they had diabetes, depression or were socially isolated.

Over the next 15 years, people with a “favorable” lifestyle score were less likely to develop dementia — if they were not at high genetic risk, the findings showed.

The difference was clear, for example, among people with low-risk APOE scores: Those with a favorable lifestyle had a much lower rate of dementia — less than 13%, versus 32% of those with an unhealthy lifestyle.

A similar pattern turned up among people at intermediate APOE risk, which the majority of study participants were.

The picture was different for people at high APOE risk. About 18% of those with a healthy lifestyle developed dementia, versus 19.5% of those with unhealthy habits.

It’s hard to know the reasons for that finding — or why it conflicts with some past studies, according to Rebecca Edelmayer, director of scientific engagement at the Alzheimer’s Association.

But she agreed that the message about lifestyle remains unchanged. “We have a body of evidence suggesting that adopting a healthy lifestyle is not only good for cardiovascular health, but for brain health, too,” Edelmayer said.

Ultimately, she added, it will take clinical trials to get more solid answers.

The Alzheimer’s Association is currently funding a trial, called U.S. Pointer, which is testing a combination of measures — including exercise, mental stimulation, and better control of blood pressure and diabetes. It’s looking at whether those steps can help prevent mental decline in older adults believed to be at increased risk.

It would be much harder to run a similar trial in middle-aged adults — since it would take many years to see any effects, Edelmayer noted. But in general, she said, it’s thought that people stand to benefit the most by making healthy changes as early as possible.

“It’s never too early to start,” she said.

Source: HealthDay


Today’s Comic

Lifestyle Changes Reduce the Need for Blood Pressure Medications

Men and women with high blood pressure reduced the need for antihypertensive medications within 16 weeks after making lifestyle changes, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Joint Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions, an annual conference focused on recent advances in hypertension research.

Lifestyle changes are the first step in reducing blood pressure according to the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Hypertension Guideline.

“Lifestyle modifications, including healthier eating and regular exercise, can greatly decrease the number of patients who need blood pressure-lowering medicine. That’s particularly the case in folks who have blood pressures in the range of 130 to 160 mmHg systolic and between 80 and 99 mmHg diastolic,” said study author Alan Hinderliter, M.D., associate professor of medicine at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

The researchers studied 129 overweight or obese men and women between ages 40 and 80 years who had high blood pressure. Patients’ blood pressures were between 130-160/80-99 mmHg but they were not taking medications to lower blood pressure at the time of the study. More than half were candidates for antihypertensive medication at the study’s start, according to recent guidelines.

Researchers randomly assigned each patient to one of three 16-week interventions. Participants in one group changed the content of their diets and took part in a weight management program that included behavioral counseling and three-times weekly supervised exercise. They changed their eating habits to that of the DASH plan, a nutritional approach proven to lower blood pressure. DASH emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy and minimizes consumption of red meat, salt and sweets. Participants in the second group changed diet only, focusing on the DASH diet with the help of a nutritionist. The third group didn’t change their exercise or eating habits.

The researchers found:

  • Those eating the DASH diet and participating in the weight management group lost an average 19 pounds and had reduced blood pressure by an average 16 mmHg systolic and 10 mmHg diastolic at the close of the 16 weeks.
  • Those following only the DASH eating plan had blood pressures decrease an average 11 systolic/8 diastolic mmHg.
  • Adults who didn’t change their eating or exercise habits experienced a minimal blood pressure decline of an average 3 systolic/4 diastolic mmHg.
  • By the study’s end, only 15 percent of those who had changed both their diet and their exercise habits needed antihypertensive medications, as recommended by the 2017 AHA/ACC guideline, compared to 23 percent in the group that only changed their diet. However, there was no change in the need for medications among those who didn’t change their diet or exercise habits – nearly 50 percent continued to meet criteria for drug treatment.

Hinderliter suspects lifestyle modifications would be just as helpful to people with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and in patients on medications for high blood pressure but that needs confirmation in future studies, he said.

Source : American Heart Association


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Following Five Healthy Lifestyle Habits May Increase Life Expectancy by Decade or More

Maintaining five healthy habits—eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy body weight, not drinking too much alcohol, and not smoking—during adulthood may add more than a decade to life expectancy, according to a new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Researchers also found that U.S. women and men who maintained the healthiest lifestyles were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer when compared with those with the least healthy lifestyles over the course of the roughly 30-year study period.

The study is the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of adopting low-risk lifestyle factors on life expectancy in the U.S. It was published online in Circulation.

Americans have a shorter average life expectancy—79.3 years—than almost all other high-income countries. The U.S. ranked 31st in the world for life expectancy in 2015. The new study aimed to quantify how much healthy lifestyle factors might be able to boost longevity in the U.S.

Harvard Chan researchers and colleagues looked at 34 years of data from 78,865 women and 27 years of data from 44,354 men participating in, respectively, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The researchers looked at how five low-risk lifestyle factors—not smoking, low body mass index (18.5-24.9 kg/m2), at least 30 minutes or more per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, moderate alcohol intake (for example, up to about one 5-ounce glass of wine per day for women, or up to two glasses for men), and a healthy diet—might impact mortality.

For study participants who didn’t adopt any of the low-risk lifestyle factors, the researchers estimated that life expectancy at age 50 was 29 years for women and 25.5 years for men. But for those who adopted all five low-risk factors, life expectancy at age 50 was projected to be 43.1 years for women and 37.6 years for men. In other words, women who maintained all five healthy habits gained, on average, 14 years of life, and men who did so gained 12 years, compared with those who didn’t maintain healthy habits.

Compared with those who didn’t follow any of the healthy lifestyle habits, those who followed all five were 74% less likely to die during the study period. The researchers also found that there was a dose-response relationship between each individual healthy lifestyle behavior and a reduced risk of early death, and that the combination of all five healthy behaviors was linked with the most additional years of life.

“This study underscores the importance of following healthy lifestyle habits for improving longevity in the U.S. population,” said Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School and senior author of the study. “However, adherence to healthy lifestyle habits is very low. Therefore, public policies should put more emphasis on creating healthy food, built, and social environments to support and promote healthy diet and lifestyles.”

Source : Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


Today’s Comic

Following Five Healthy Lifestyle Habits May Increase Life Expectancy by Decade or More

Maintaining five healthy habits—eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy body weight, not drinking too much alcohol, and not smoking—during adulthood may add more than a decade to life expectancy, according to a new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Researchers also found that U.S. women and men who maintained the healthiest lifestyles were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer when compared with those with the least healthy lifestyles over the course of the roughly 30-year study period.

The study is the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of adopting low-risk lifestyle factors on life expectancy in the U.S. It was published online April 30, 2018 in Circulation.

Americans have a shorter average life expectancy—79.3 years—than almost all other high-income countries. The U.S. ranked 31st in the world for life expectancy in 2015. The new study aimed to quantify how much healthy lifestyle factors might be able to boost longevity in the U.S.

Harvard Chan researchers and colleagues looked at 34 years of data from 78,865 women and 27 years of data from 44,354 men participating in, respectively, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The researchers looked at how five low-risk lifestyle factors—not smoking, low body mass index (18.5-24.9 kg/m2), at least 30 minutes or more per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, moderate alcohol intake (for example, up to about one 5-ounce glass of wine per day for women, or up to two glasses for men), and a healthy diet—might impact mortality.

For study participants who didn’t adopt any of the low-risk lifestyle factors, the researchers estimated that life expectancy at age 50 was 29 years for women and 25.5 years for men. But for those who adopted all five low-risk factors, life expectancy at age 50 was projected to be 43.1 years for women and 37.6 years for men. In other words, women who maintained all five healthy habits gained, on average, 14 years of life, and men who did so gained 12 years, compared with those who didn’t maintain healthy habits.

Compared with those who didn’t follow any of the healthy lifestyle habits, those who followed all five were 74% less likely to die during the study period. The researchers also found that there was a dose-response relationship between each individual healthy lifestyle behavior and a reduced risk of early death, and that the combination of all five healthy behaviors was linked with the most additional years of life.

“This study underscores the importance of following healthy lifestyle habits for improving longevity in the U.S. population,” said Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School and senior author of the study. “However, adherence to healthy lifestyle habits is very low. Therefore, public policies should put more emphasis on creating healthy food, built, and social environments to support and promote healthy diet and lifestyles.”

Source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Video: TED Talks – How China Is Changing the Future of Shopping

China is a huge laboratory of innovation, says retail expert Angela Wang, and in this lab, everything takes place on people’s phones. Five hundred million Chinese consumers — the equivalent of the combined populations of the US, UK and Germany — regularly make purchases via mobile platforms, even in brick-and-mortar stores. What will this transformation mean for the future of shopping? Learn more about the new business-as-usual, where everything is ultra-convenient, ultra-flexible and ultra-social.

Watch video at You Tube (13:38 minutes) . . . .