These 7 Lifestyle Factors May Prevent Dementia as You Age, New Study Says

Based on recommendations from the American Heart Association, these factors are considered the most important predictors of heart and brain health.

There are a handful of ways people try to maintain their brain health, like following a healthy diet and exercising regularly. But if you've been looking for more ways to keep your thinker sharp, you're in luck. A new study recently found there are seven key ways women, in particular, can lower their risk for dementia as they age.

In the study, which is being presented at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting, researchers followed 13,720 women for 20 years to analyze their risk of developing dementia. According to the U.S. News and World Report, study participants received a score of zero for poor or intermediate health, and one point for ideal health for each of the seven factors.

Happy mature women friends with yoga mats walking in park
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The study authors based the factors on the American Heart Association's "Life's Simple 7," which are the seven most important predictors of heart health and cardiovascular health. The seven factors are:

  1. Being active
  2. Eating a better diet
  3. Maintaining a healthy weight
  4. Not smoking
  5. Keeping normal blood pressure
  6. Controlling cholesterol
  7. Having low blood sugar

At the start of the study, participants had an average score of 4.3, out of a possible 7. One decade later, that score went down to 4.2. For every 1-point increase, dementia risk decreased by 6 percent after controlling for factors like age and education. At the 20-year checkpoint, 13 percent (1,771) of women were diagnosed with dementia.

The researchers note there were some limitations to their study, namely that they didn't look at how factors like quitting smoking influenced the risk of dementia later in life. Despite this fact, the study authors believe the more bad habits you cross of the list, the lower you dementia risk will be in the future.

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