Health & Wellness

Heart-Healthy Habits Reduce Dementia Risk

The healthier your behaviour, the lower your risk

By Wendy Haaf

Photo: iStock/noipornpan.

Leading a heart-healthy lifestyle is linked to a reduced risk for dementia, according to study results published in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study, conducted in France, involved 6,626 adults over 65 whose lifestyles were weighed against seven heart-healthy behaviours:

  • not smoking
  • maintaining a healthy body weight
  • exercising regularly
  • eating a healthy diet, and
  • maintaining healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels without medications.

Participants were followed for 12 years. By the study’s end, 11% had developed dementia. However, with each heart-healthy trait, incidence dropped by 10%.

Among those with the fewest heart-healthy habits (zero or one), incidence of the brain condition was more than twice that of subjects with the most heart-healthy lifestyle factors (six to seven): approximately 18 in 1,000, compared with eight in 1,000.