London: A healthy heart is the key to steer clear of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, experts say.
Analysis of decades of research shows simple things such as helping your heart by eating well and taking regular exercise will delay the onset of memory problems.
Researcher Dr Gustavo Roman says managing vascular disease risk factors will stave off dementia as well as heart attacks and strokes, the Daily Express reported.
Vascular disease is caused by fatty deposits or plaques, which harden the arteries and are also implicated in the development of dementia.
Eating a fruit and vegetable-packed diet, drinking small amounts of alcohol, cutting down on smoking and taking plenty of vitamin B also help, he said.
Dr Roman, of the Nantz National Alzheimer Center in Houston, Texas, said studies also show high blood pressure raises the likelihood that mild cognitive impairment will eventually lead to dementia.
Other work shows high cholesterol is an important risk factor for dementia, including Alzheimer’s, and that smoking restricts blood flow to the brain, possibly causing cognitive decline.
Type 2 diabetes sufferers are two or three times more likely be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, in part because of vascular complications.
A healthy lifestyle decreases the risk of dementia in later life, according to Dr Roman.
Although more research is required, controlling cholesterol, blood pressure and weight will cut the risk of dementia, he added.
The study has been published in the journal Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders.