People who have lifestyle issues may be at risk for brain shrinkage and mental decline.
According to a recent report based on the Framingham Heart study that has been going on since 1948 on the residents of Masachusetts town, factors such as diabetes, smoking, hypertension and obesity increased the risk for brain shrinkage and dementia.
AdvertisementMethod - The study, which was published in the journal 'Neurology' was carried out on 1,352 people who were on an average about 54 years old. Their risk factors (overweight, high cholesterol levels, smoking, diabetes and high BP) were assessed during middle age.
When the subjects were between 61 and 67 years of age their brains were scanned using an MRI. Cognitive skill study was also carried out on them.
Observation - Middle aged diabetics, smokers and over-weight people lost brain volume or experienced shrinkage at a faster pace in comparison to normal people.
Diabetics experienced shrinkage of the hippocampal region of the brain which is related to memory, while smokers and obese individuals experienced whole brain shrinkage.
It was observed that those with high BP developed change in the "white matter" of the brain, or blood vessel damage within the brain.It was also observed that their decision making ability and planning skills depleted at a faster rate.
Smokers also experienced white matter changes at a faster rate than other people.
"Our findings provide evidence that identifying these risk factors early in people of middle age could be useful in screening people for dementia and encouraging people to make changes to their lifestyle before it's too late," says Charles DeCarli, MD, of the University of California-Davis in Sacramento.
The study hopes to unravel the mechanisms involved in the development of dementia.
Recommendations - Modifying the risk factors by bringing about life style changes is likely to reduce the chances developing dementia as one gets older.
Make sure you walk for at least 30 minutes each day, five days a week.
Monitor what goes into your mouth. Keep those fries away.
Opt for a low-fat, high protein diet and don't forget your daily fiber!
Keep stress at bay by chosing some remedial measures such as mediation, long drives or reading.
Engage in mind-stimulating games such as scrabble.
Monitor your health status by going for regular health check ups and yearly screenings.
All these measures if diligently followed will ensure that your memory is intact for a long, long time and that you live a long and healthy life !