Dementia Prevention

In December, my dear mother-in-law passed away. For the five years proceeding her death, she suffered from dementia. During that time, I witnessed her suffering and the suffering of her beloved family and have since vowed to do anything I can to prevent my husband and me from getting this devastating condition. But the question is, what should we do?

A JAMA study, described in a recent NY Times article, indicates comprehensive improvement in vascular health may have an effect on brain health. Study participants, (50+ years old with elevated systolic blood pressure (130-180) and no history of diabetes or stroke) who were treated with medication to bring their blood pressure under 120, suffered significantly less mild cognitive impairment (a known risk factor for dementia) than their peers who were treated to bring their blood pressure just under 140. The study leaves many questions unanswered, especially because there have been studies of people over 80 indicating that hypertension might protect against dementia. However, it has served to renew my determination to follow the CDC recommendations for preventing high blood pressure:

  • Eat a healthy diet

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Get enough physical activity.

  • Don’t smoke

  • Limit alcohol use