Brain researchers: Higher education can reduce our risk of dementia

Brain researchers: Higher education can reduce our risk of dementia

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Better schooling and good cardiovascular health reduce the likelihood of dementia
When people develop dementia, many unpleasant problems arise for those affected and their relatives. Sick people are usually barely able to lead their lives independently and require extensive care. For a long time, doctors have been trying to better understand the causes of the disease and to develop a means of treating dementia. A high level of education and good cardiovascular health could help reduce the risk of dementia, American researchers now claim.

Dementia has serious consequences for those affected and their families. Dementia is a major problem in today's society and affects more and more elderly people worldwide. Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine are now trying to understand the disease better and find new ways to prevent dementia. The scientists published their results in the journal “New England Journal of Medicine”.

Good education and a healthy heart protect us from dementia
Many people around the world have dementia. The number is estimated at around 47.5 million. The results of the new study show that education levels and good cardiovascular health can help reduce the likelihood of dementia. For their new study, the researchers examined the health data of 5,205 subjects. The test subjects were part of the “Framingham Heart Study”. The incidence of dementia in the United States has decreased significantly since the mid-1970s, says Dr. Sudha Seshadri from the Boston University School of Medicine. The age of the brain disease has risen from an average of 80 years in the late 1970s to 85 years in the past few years, the researchers report. So there could be ways to delay or prevent the disease.

Our education and heart health seem to be factors related to the decline in dementia cases, explains Dr. Seshadri. However, there are other factors that could be responsible for such a decline. The significant decrease in the risk of dementia could only be observed in people who had at least a school leaving certificate, the experts say. In this group of subjects, dementia cases decreased by about 44 percent compared to people without a school leaving certificate. This reduction in risk could only be determined in subjects with a school-leaving certificate, the doctors add. Earlier research found that people with better schooling and mentally demanding jobs experience a decline in cognitive skills about five years later, explains Dr. Education can also reflect individual economic and social status, and people with higher education may simply have better prerequisites for good care in old age, the expert emphasizes.

The researchers also discovered that an improvement in cardiovascular health is associated with a decrease in the risk of dementia. Improved heart health could make a big difference, the scientists explain in their study.

Triples of dementia cases by 2050
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. In 2015, there were approximately 5.1 million people in the United States suffering from the disease, the doctors say. The number of dementias can increase significantly in the coming decades. The incidence of the disease is expected to increase to 13.8 million cases by 2050, the American experts say. This would mean that the number of sufferers would triple during this period, unless a medical breakthrough that prevents the disease or enables improved treatment is achieved, warn the scientists. (as)

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Video: Research on Aging - Brain Fitness: Social Aspects of Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment


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