by Medindia Content Team on  August 7, 2006 at 12:10 PM Mental Health News
New Test Developed That Could Predict Those At Risk of Dementia
Scientists have claimed to develop a short quiz, which can predict the likelihood that an individual will develop dementia in middle age, based on blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol levels, gender, exercise habits, genetic factors, age and education.

Dementia is a condition where there is a progressive deterioration in the cognitive function of an individual due to the damage or any associated disease in the brain over and above the factors of normal aging. The condition can impede with memory, attention, language, and problem-solving abilities, is known to make the affected persons to lose track of time and place, and may not even know who they are, in the later stages of the condition.

It was reported that scientists have developed the score-based system after analysing data from the Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging, and Dementia study that had involved around 1,500 middle-aged people from Finland. They explained that the test subjects were followed to see whether they had or were developing signs of dementia after 20 years. The researchers also explained that people with any one of the risk factors like cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol would probably have double the risk of developing dementia, and that having all the factors increases the risk by six times.

Publishing the findings in Lancet Neurology, the researchers explained that they had tested the risk score on 1 409 middle-aged people and found that it was 70% accurate. They mentioned in their study that the risk factors for dementia are nearly identical to those known to increase cardiovascular disease risk. Dr Miia Kivipelto, associate professor at the Ageing Research Centre in Stockholm, and the lead author of the study said, "We have known for years that trying to control obesity, blood pressure and cholesterol can prevent heart disease, but now it's not only the heart you can save, but also the brain."

Explaining that dementia is rarely reversible, many health experts feel that some cases might be preventable. The researchers had explained that people who scored the lowest on the new test had a 1% risk level, while those who scored highest had a 16% risk. The scientists were of the opinion that the test provides a basis for arousing people to the risks associated with their health and thereby creating healthier lifestyle changes and diet. The general guidelines for which would include a reduced consumption of saturated fat and salt consumption low, and instead opting for foods rich in vitamin B, omega 3 fatty acids and zinc, like fish, white meat, brown rice, vegetables, fruit and eggs.

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