A new study has reached the conclusion that dementia might be avoided with education and lifestyle. The report also states that the condition has been declining since the 1970s.
The data was gathered from the Framingham Heart Study in order to compile a new report. After a close analysis, researchers noticed that dementia has declined with 44% since the 1970s and 1980s. The interesting bit is that the drop has been recorded among people who graduated high school.
The Framingham Study has been ongoing since 1948 in a town close to Boston in Massachusetts. The new research included dementia rates data from 5,205 persons over the course of five years blocks.
It seems that what produced the reduction was a fall in cases of senility, but also of vascular diseases including heart failure, atrial fibrillation and stroke, which sometimes lead to dementia. Furthermore, Alzheimer’s disease also diminished as the sciences initiatives director from Alzheimer’s Association Dean Hartley has stated. Hartley added that modifiable lifestyles could lower the risk of developing the disease.
People with no high school diploma did not record any decline in dementia, but this could also be because heart health improvements were only noticed among high school graduates. However, Texas University Health Science Center dementia neurologist Dr. Paul Schulz did point out that healthcare access is strongly linked to education, since graduates usually have better insurance and pay more visits to their doctors.
The results of the study also demonstrated that the disease is now appearing later in life. In the 1970s it tended to develop at around 80 years of age, and recently it is delayed until the age of 85.
On the other side, the Framingham Study does lack in diversity, since most participants have European ancestry. Researchers will need to broaden the scope and area of the study in order to find more answers.
University of Boston School of Medicine professor of neurology Dr. Sudha Seshadri who is also one of the authors of the study warned that dementia has become a threat with the increase of life expectancy. The decline of dementia rates will not necessarily mean a drop in numbers of dementia cases. Even though they could not identify the cause of this decline, the progress is good. Seshadri argued that we need to better understand the process in order to be able to influence it.
Dementia might be avoided with education and lifestyle, since these two elements have always been beneficial. However, researchers will have to identify the exact changes in lifestyle that need to be made in order to avoid the disease.
Image Source: RAND