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Regular Exercise Reduces Dementia Risk in Elderly

by Dr. Reeja Tharu on  December 3, 2012 at 11:38 AM Health Watch   - G J E 4
The elderly can reduce their chances of acquiring dementia if they remain physically active, says a new research.
Regular Exercise Reduces Dementia Risk in Elderly
Regular Exercise Reduces Dementia Risk in Elderly
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According to the findings of a multinational European study carried out for three years, those who engage in regular physical activity reduce their chances of getting vascular dementia by 40 percent and cognitive impairment (inclusive of vascular dementia) by 60 percent. Vascular dementia is the dementia occurring due to the disease of the blood vessels of the brain (cerebrovascular disease). Generally, this disorder occurs only in the elderly.

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The results also reveal that the benefits of regular physical activity and its protective effect seemed unaffected by factors such as age, education, changes in the white matter of the brain and a history of diabetes or stroke.

The study was carried out on 639 people who were in their sixties and seventies, of whom 55 percent were women. The subjects participated in phone interviews and were asked about their clinical visits, depression, quality of life, and about the way in which they carried out their everyday activities. Approximately, 64 percent of the subjects said that they were active for at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week. Activities included walking, biking or gym-based exercises.

By carrying out magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests during the initiation and end of the study, the researchers were able to identify and measure changes in the white matter of the brain. These changes are indicative of cognitive problems including urinary complaints, difficulty in walking, and depression. White matter changes are common in older people and are associated with vascular risk factors such as hypertension.

At the end of the follow-up study it was discovered that 90 patients had dementia, of which 54 percent had vascular dementia caused by impaired blood flow to the brain, 34 patients were potentially at risk for Alzheimer's disease while another 147 patients displayed cognitive impairment, but did not have dementia.

Ana Verdelho, M.D., lead author of the study and a researcher of neuroscience at the University of Lisbon, Santa Maria Hospital, Portugal, recommends moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes three times a week to prevent cognitive impairment. This is particularly important for those who have a history of diabetes, stroke or hypertension.

The results of the study have been published in the American Heart Association journal 'Stroke'.

Source: Medindia
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