Can 7 Healthy Habits Reduce Dementia Risk?


New research that followed female participants for two decades has found that seven healthy habits and lifestyle factors may play a role in lowering the risk of dementia.

The seven cardiovascular and brain health factors, known as the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 , are: being active, eating better, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, maintaining a healthy blood pressure, controlling cholesterol and having low blood sugar.

“Since we now know that dementia can begin in the brain decades before diagnosis, it’s important that we learn more about how your habits in middle age can affect your risk of dementia in old age,” said Pamela Rist, ScD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “The good news is that making healthy lifestyle choices in middle age may lead to a decreased risk of dementia later in life.”

The study involved 13,720 female participants with an average age of 54 at the start of the study.

After 20 years of follow-up, researchers looked at Medicare data to identify those who had been diagnosed with dementia.

Of the participants, 1,771, or 13%, developed dementia.

For each of the seven health factors, participants were given a score of zero for poor or intermediate health and one point for ideal health, for a total possible score of 7. The average score was 4.3 at the start of the study and 4.2 10 years later.

After adjusting for factors like age and education, researchers found that for every increase of one point in the score, a participant’s risk of dementia decreased by 6%.

“It can be empowering for people to know that by taking steps such as exercising for a half an hour a day or keeping their blood pressure under control, they can reduce their risk of dementia,” Rist added.

A limitation of the study was that researchers were unable to look at how changes in factors such as quitting smoking influenced the risk of dementia later in life. — Newswise

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health. 

Learn more about dementia at, home of the American Academy of Neurology’s free patient and caregiver magazine focused on the intersection of neurologic disease and brain health.

One Response to “Can 7 Healthy Habits Reduce Dementia Risk?”


  1. […] lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, is tied to a small increased risk of dementia in older adults, according to a study published in the October 4, 2023, online issue […]

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