What is the primary risk factor for cognitive impairment? If you answered age, you'd be correct. However, a recent study suggests that lifestyle factors may be a close competitor.
This study, which included 22,117 adults (aged 18 to 89), looked at how eight dementia risk factors (low level of education, loss of hearing, brain injury, drug abuse, hypertension, smoking status, diabetes and depression) impacted memory and attention, finding that:
- Each lifestyle factor contributed to up to 3 years of brain aging and reduced cognitive functioning.
- A greater number of risk factors were present in older individuals.
- Effects of each risk factor were worse for older adults compared to younger adults.
- Adults without any of these dementia risk factors had brain health at par with those 10-20 years younger.
Researchers concluded that these lifestyle factors may have a greater impact than age does on cognitive function.
The Hearty Take
At Hearty, we know that lifestyle is key to disease prevention and health optimization. This study suggests that avoiding these risk factors at any and every age can help prevent cognitive decline and dementia. We encourage you to feel empowered with the knowledge that a simple lifestyle change (or 8) can significantly add to your healthspan. To start addressing these risk factors, reach out to your doctor!