Healthy lifestyle linked to more years without Alzheimer’s disease
A healthy lifestyle — adequate exercise, cognitive engagement, and a healthy diet — can reduce the risk of dementia and prolong life.
In addition, older age is associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. So, while a healthier lifestyle may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, it may increase the number of years of the disease.
To further investigate this little-known issue, a team of US and Swiss researchers analyzed the potential impact of a healthy lifestyle on years of living with and without Alzheimer’s disease.
The study analyzed data from 2449 participants aged 65 and older (mean age 76), with no history of dementia, as part of the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP).
Participants completed detailed diet and lifestyle questionnaires and healthy lifestyle scores developed based on: Hybrid Mediterranean-DASH Diet (a diet rich in cereals, green leafy vegetables and berries and less fast/fried foods and red meat); cognitive stimulation activities at the end of life; at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity; no smoking; Drink alcohol sparingly.
Cognitive activities include reading, visiting a museum, or doing crossword puzzles.
For each lifestyle factor, participants received a score of 1 if they met the healthy criteria and 0 if they didn’t. Scores from five lifestyle factors are aggregated to yield a final score that ranges from 0 to 5. Higher scores indicate a healthier lifestyle.
After considering other potential predisposing factors, including age, sex, ethnicity and education, the researchers found that the average total life expectancy at age 65 in women and men had healthy lifestyle at 24.2 and 23.1 years, respectively. But for women and men with less healthy lifestyles, life expectancy is shorter – 21.1 and 17.4 years, the study found.
For women and men with healthy lifestyles, 10.8% (2.6 years) and 6.1% (1.4 years) of the remaining years lived with Alzheimer’s disease, respectively, compared with 19.3 % (4.1 years) and 12.0% (2.1 years) of study participants. with an unhealthy lifestyle.
At 85, these differences are even more noticeable.
Although the study was population-based with long-term follow-up, it was an observational study and, therefore, could not determine cause.
The researchers point to a number of other limitations, for example, self-reported lifestyle, which may lead to measurement errors, and the estimates provided in this study should not be generalized to groups. other populations without additional studies and validation.
However, the researchers concluded: “This investigation shows that the extended life expectancy associated with a healthy lifestyle is not associated with an increase in the number of years living with Alzheimer’s disease.”
The life expectancy estimates presented here “can help health professionals, policy makers, and stakeholders plan for future healthcare services, costs, and needs.” hybrid,” they added.
In a linked editorial, a University of Michigan researcher highlights “the important implications of the study for the health of aging populations and for related public health policies and programs.” .”
The development and implementation of interventions to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is vitally important in global efforts to reduce pressure on care systems, she said. stressors, healthcare workers and both paid and unpaid caregivers.
She concludes: “Promoting greater participation in healthy lifestyles could increase the number of years of life without dementia – by delaying the onset of dementia without prolonging its duration. living with dementia.