Friday, September 20, 2019

Lifestyle Habits and Alzheimer's Disease

According to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), the chief causes of chronic diseases are smoking, overuse of alcohol, poor diet, and lack of physical activity. Among the chronic diseases that the CDC lists are heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. And a recent study shows that lifestyle habits can lower the risks of Alzheimer’s disease a greater amount than the researchers had anticipated.

The study was described at the Alzheimer’s Association international conference in Los Angeles. The researchers concluded that if a person employs a healthy diet, engages in physical activity, stops smoking, does not overindulge in alcohol use, and participates in “cognitive stimulation activities,” the individual could lower his or her risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 60%.

The study included 2765 participants who were tracked over a ten-year period. There were two parts of the study: one part was called the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP), and the other was called the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP). The study consisted of older adults with an average age of the CHAP participants being 73 years and the average age of the MAP participants being 81 years. The participants were both male and female, who were either black or non-Hispanic whites.

The participants evaluated the behavior of the participants using a scoring method involving healthy habits. The researchers gave the participants a "0" if they did not engage in one of the five above mentioned healthy habits or a "1" if the participants did engage in the one of the healthy habits. And it was concluded that if an individual earned four or five in the rating system, that individual’s risk of Alzheimer’s was lowered by 60% compared to subjects in the study who earned a total score of "0" or "1".

Further, another study presented at the conference indicated that healthy lifestyle choices could even lower the risk of Alzheimer’s for people who are genetically predispositioned for the disease. The investigators concluded that “people with a high genetic risk of Alzheimer’s are less likely to develop the disease if they pursue a healthy lifestyle.”

The above-referenced studies confirm what research continues to show: A healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. So healthcare providers ought to work to induce patients to embrace healthy living. It could lower our healthcare costs while improving population health.


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