Scientists identify have identified 7 healthy linked to lower rates of dementia in those with genetic risk
According to a study recently published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, seven healthy habits and lifestyle factors may help reduce the risk of dementia in people with the greatest genetic risk.
The seven cardiovascular and brain health factors are known as the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7: being active, eating healthier, losing weight, not smoking, keeping a healthy blood pressure, regulating cholesterol, and lowering blood sugar.
“These healthy habits in the Life’s Simple 7 have been linked to a lower risk of dementia overall, but it is uncertain whether the same applies to people with a high genetic risk,” said study author Adrienne Tin, Ph.D., of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. “The good news is that even for people who are at the highest genetic risk, living by this same healthier lifestyle are likely to have a lower risk of dementia.”
In the research, 2,738 people with African heritage and 8,823 individuals with European ancestry were tracked over the course of 30 years. At the start of the trial, participants’ average age was 54.
The levels of each of the seven health factors were reported by study participants. The range of total scores was 0 to 14, with 0 being the most unhealthy score and 14 denoting the most healthy score. People of European heritage scored on average 8.3, whereas people of African descent scored on average 6.6.
Researchers calculated genetic risk scores at the start of the study using genome-wide statistics of
Among people with African ancestry, researchers found a similar pattern of declining dementia risk across all three groups among those with higher scores on the lifestyle factors. But researchers said the smaller number of participants in this group limited the findings, so more research is needed.
“Larger sample sizes from diverse populations are needed to get more reliable estimates of the effects of these modifiable health factors on dementia risk within different genetic risk groups and ancestral backgrounds,” Tin said.
A limitation of the study was the smaller sample size among people of African ancestry and that many African American participants were recruited from one location.
The study was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Human Genome Research Institute.
Reference: “Genetic Risk, Midlife Life’s Simple 7, and Incident Dementia in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study” by Adrienne Tin, Jan Bressler, Jeannette Simino, Kevin J Sullivan, Hao Mei, B. Gwen Windham, Michael Griswold, Rebecca F. Gottesman, Eric Boerwinkle, Myriam Fornage and Tom H. Mosley, 25 May 2022, Neurology.
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