Can Dementia Be Prevented?

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It is not usually possible to say for sure why a particular person has developed dementia. It is known that high blood pressure, lack of physical exercise and smoking - all of which lead to narrowing of the arteries - increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. There is evidence that a healthy lifestyle, especially in mid-life, can help reduce the risk of dementia. Regular physical exercise (eg cycling, brisk walking), maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and drinking only in moderation are all linked to a reduced risk of dementia. It is important that conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are all kept under control. Getting depression treated early is also important.

A balanced diet may help to reduce risk. A balanced diet is one which is low in saturated fat, does not have too much salt, dairy or meat, and includes plenty of fish and fresh fruit and vegetables. All these healthy lifestyle choices will also reduce the risk of other serious conditions such as stroke, heart disease and cancer. It also seems that keeping socially and mentally active into later life may help lower the risk of dementia. Being socially active could include visiting friends or going to a place of worship, while being mentally active could include doing puzzles or reading.

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