What helps prevent dementia? Try exercise, not vitamin pills

Eat well, exercise more: New global guidelines to reduce risk of dementia

A new set of guidelines just released in a report Tuesday by The World Health Organization highlighted things you can do to help prevent dementia.

Dementia is a persistent impairment of mental process marked by memory disorder, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.

Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer disease or stroke.

That includes getting enough exercise; treating other health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol; having an active social life, and avoiding or curbing harmful habits such as smoking, overeating and drinking too much alcohol.

"In the next 30 years, the number of people with dementia is expected to triple", Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general at World Health Organization, said in a press release. "The scientific evidence gathered for these Guidelines confirm what we have suspected for some time, that what is good for our heart, is also good for our brain".

It now affects about 50 million people globally with 10 million new cases every year.

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The global health body also warned against taking dietary supplements such as vitamins B and E in an effort to combat cognitive decline and dementia. The cost of caring for dementia patients is predicted to surge to $2 trillion by 2030. Nearly 10 million new cases of dementia arise every year and the number of people diagnosed with the condition is set to triple by 2050. This disease is also becoming a major reason for dependency and disability among older people.

Last year, WHO provided support to countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Qatar, Slovenia and Sri Lanka to develop a comprehensive, multi-sectoral public health response to dementia, it said in a statement.

The guidelines were created to provide healthcare professionals with the knowledge they need to advise patients on the measures they can take to reduce their risk for cognitive decline and dementia.

They will also be useful to governments, policy makers and planning authorities as a guide in developing policy and designing programmes that encourage healthy lifestyles.

"Other recommendations have a less strong evidence base but may have evidence that they do not increase risk or harm and can therefore be recommended safely, although their impact on risk is less certain".

Currently, iSupport is available for use in eight countries, with more expected to follow in the future. (The Guidelines are available in multiple languages and audio forms).

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