Research findings reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles, July 14-18, 2019 suggest that healthy lifestyle choices—including diet, exercise, and cognitive stimulation—may decrease risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Data from the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP; n = 1,431) and the Rush Memory and Aging Project (RMAP; n = 920) show an association between healthy lifestyle and decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
The pooled hazard ration (95%CI) of Alzheimer's dementia across two cohorts was 0.78 (95%CI 0.71-0.86) per each additional low-risk lifestyle factor. People who had 4 to 5 of the low-risk lifestyle factors had a 59% lower risk of AD (HR: 0.41 95%CI 0.28-0.58) and those with 2 to 3 factors had a 39% lower risk (HR 0.61, 95%CI 0.48-0.78) compared with those who had 0 to 1 factor. The associations were largely similar across gender and race but were modified by APOE e4 status in CHAP.
A low-risk (healthy) lifestyle score was created on the basis of never having smoked, exercising (moderate/vigorous leisure physical activity) more 150 or more min/week, light to moderate alcohol consumption (1-15g/day in women and 1-30g/day in men), eating the high-quality MIND diet (upper 40% of score distribution), and engaging in late-life cognitive activities (upper 40%), giving an overall score ranging 0 to 5. Hazard ratios were calculated after adjusting for age, sex, race, education, APOE e4, and history of cardiovascular disease.
“This study highlights the importance of following multiple healthy lifestyle practices for lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia,” said Klodian Dhana, MD, PhD, assistant professor at Rush University Medical Center. “In the US, adherence to a healthy lifestyle is low, and therefore promoting these lifestyle factors should become the primary goal for public health policies."