To ward off heart disease, the American Heart Association (AHA) has a helpful list of the most important risk factors that can lower your chances of having heart problems. It turns out those very same things can also reduce the risk of dementia.
In a new study published in JAMA, researchers led by Cecilia Samieri, an epidemiologist at Bordeaux University and INSERM in France, investigated the AHA’s Life’s Simple 7 metrics that the organization says can help lower the risk of heart disease. But Samieri and her colleagues evaluated them for how they affected dementia risk. The measures include not smoking, having a BMI under 25, getting regular exercise, having blood pressure under 120/80 mm Hg, keeping total cholesterol under 200 mg/dL and blood sugar under 100 mg/dL, and eating fish twice a week and fruits and vegetables at least three times a day.
The researchers found that for each measure people successfully fulfilled, their risk of dementia declined by 10%, compared to people who did not have any of the seven factors under control. For those who had all seven of the risk factors at optimal levels, their risk of dementia was reduced by 70%.