Can Good Health Stave Off Dementia?
Prevent Dementia Through Good Health DecisionsOnce you know your risk factors, the next step involves minimizing or eliminating the risk factors that you have. So what can you do to help prevent dementia? Good strategies include:
- Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol
- Preventing or managing diabetes
- Not smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Drinking alcohol in moderation
- Eating a well-balanced, heart-healthy diet.
Dementia Prevention Strategies Explained
The following sections explain in detail specific strategies that may help prevent symptoms of dementia.
Controlling Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a potent risk factor for dementia. About 50 million American adults have high blood pressure. This is defined as an average blood pressure higher than 140/90 mmHg with multiple blood pressure readings. "Prehypertension" is any level higher than 120/80 mmHg.
People with hypertension often have no high blood pressure symptoms, so have your blood pressure checked every one to two years. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest you make some lifestyle changes, such as eating less salt (see DASH Diet) and exercising more. Your doctor may also prescribe medicine to help lower your blood pressure.
Several studies have shown that high blood pressure medicine reduces the odds of dementia in elderly people with hypertension. One large European study found a 55 percent lower risk of dementia in people over 60 who received drug treatment for hypertension. These people had a reduced risk of both Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.