24 July 2020

The main reasons

Meta-study revealed 10 main factors of dementia development

Georgy Golovanov, Hi-tech+

A large-scale study analyzed a large amount of experimental data to compile a list of risk factors for Alzheimer's disease. The top 10 includes both obvious dangers and unexpected signs for scientists. In addition, the researchers emphasized the importance and accessibility of the prevention of senile dementia.

The vast majority of cases of Alzheimer's disease arise from a complex combination of genetic predisposition, lifestyle and age. Understanding the interaction of these factors is the key to disease prevention. An international group of scientists conducted the largest meta-study on this topic, according to Alzheimer's Research UK: Study identifies 10 risk factors for Alzheimer's disease.

Article by Yu et al. Evidence-based prevention of Alzheimer's disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of 243 observational prospective studies and 153 randomized controlled trials published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry – VM.

In total, the authors analyzed 243 articles and 153 experiments, identified 104 changeable factors, ten of which were supported by the most irrefutable evidence. These include:

  • low level of education in youth;
  • low cognitive activity in mature years;
  • high body mass index in mature years;
  • hyperhomocysteinemia;
  • depression;
  • stress;
  • diabetes;
  • head injuries;
  • hypertension in mature years;
  • orthostatic hypotension.

Some of them — high body mass index, diabetes, stress — have long been recognized as risk factors. Low levels of education have also been linked to dementia in old age, but it is not clear whether learning really helps prevent Alzheimer's disease, or simply enhances cognitive functions. Other factors from this list surprised scientists: for example, head injuries or high levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which accumulates in those who smoke a lot and often drink coffee.

Researchers emphasize that people are mostly unaware that they can reduce the risk of dementia by changing their lifestyle.

"The best way to maintain brain health in adulthood is to stay physically and mentally active, eat healthy and balanced food, not smoke, drink no more than the recommended level and control weight, cholesterol and blood pressure," said Rosa Sancho from the Alzheimer's Research Foundation in Britain.

Recently, scientists from the United States described a new form of dementia, which is characterized by a dangerous accumulation of four proteins in the brain. Researchers claim that many patients who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease actually suffer from another, more complex neurodegenerative disease.

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